What are dynamic accumulators?

To a forest garden to work, we need to create a dynamic similar to the one we can find in natural ecosystems. It is primarily about creating healthy soil, a good pest balance, good conditions for pollination and especially self-generated fertility, ie. a system that covers his own need of nutrients to the greatest extent possible. Dynamic accumulators belonging key plants needed to create this self-generating fertility. With dynamic accumulators means plants that take up minerals and nutrients from deeper soil layers and accumulating them in their leaves, branches, roots, etc.. When parts of the plant dies made of minerals available to other organisms and soil fertility in the upper soil layers (where it occurs most biological activity) increases.

What is a dynamic accumulator, there is not really any consensus in the literature. Most trees have the deep root system and contributes to soil fertility through the roots die back and lövnedfallet in autumn. The plants that are called dynamic accumulators seems to be especially good at taking up different nutrients and also has the ability to tillgängligöra them to the rest of the system in one way or another.

En polykultur av lupiner, lungrot and spenatskräppa (Rumex patientia) all of which are considered to be dynamic accumulators, supplemented with white clover for nitrogen fixation.
A polykultur in Putt Myra forest garden of lupins, lungrot and spenatskräppa (Rumex patientia) all of which are considered to be dynamic accumulators, supplemented with white clover for nitrogen fixation.

It is primarily nitrogen (N), potassium (K), phosphorus (P) och calcium (As) that tends to be limiting for woody plant growth. The nitrogen-fixing plants (N2) I will write about in a separate post, because not all of them also are dynamic accumulators. Some dynamic accumulators, such as comfrey, also supplies other nutrients to the upper soil layers, so as manganese (Mn), magnesium (Mg), sodium (In), sulfur (S), cobalt (Co), copper (With) or iron (Faith). Martin Crawford estimates that it takes about five years [1] in order to initiate the desired ecosystem dynamics of a forest garden and the dynamic accumulators plays a key role in this transition, provided that the other requirements for ecosystem dynamics are also satisfied.

Comfrey is considered one of the best dynamic accumulators we have available. Här den sterila sorten 'Bocking 14' som förökas genom rotdelning.
Comfrey is considered one of the best dynamic accumulators we have available. Here the sterile variety 'Bocking 14’ propagated by rotdelning.

What then are the appropriate dynamic accumulators for our Nordic conditions? Unfortunately, so far very little research work on dynamic accumulators [2], but here is a summary based on the information I have been able to find in the literature ([1, 3]), I added some plants that I know has a high content of minerals, as Good Henrik målla (Chenopodium bonus-henricus).

Woody dynamic accumulators

Botanical nameSwedish nameNutrientsComment
Acer saccharumSUGAR MAPLEK, As
Juglans nigraBlack walnutK, P CaVery good dynamic accumulator due. their pålrötter reaching long into the earth. However, contains leaves and roots Thread juglone which is growth inhibitory for many other plants.
Juglans spp.Other walnutsK, PGood dynamic accumulators because their pålrötter reaching long into the earth. However, contains leaves and roots Thread juglone which is growth inhibitory for many other plants.
Robinia pseudoacaciaRobiniaK, As, N2Nitrogen-fixing trees with wood of the same quality as oak. Hardy to zone 3 in Sweden.
Tilia cordataSkogslindP, AsThe tender leaves are edible.

Herbaceous dynamic accumulators

Botanical nameSwedish nameNutrientsComment
Allium schoenoprasumChivesK, As
Brassica spp.Perenna kålarterP, SFew of these are hardy in Sweden
Chamaemelum nobileRoman ChamomileK, P, As
Chenopodium albumLambsquartersAs, P, K, MnBest known as an annual weed. Good human nutrition.
Chenopodium bonus-henricusGood Henrik målla / LungrotK, P, As, Mg
Cichorium intybusCikoriaK, As
Filipendula ulmariaMeadowsweetP, K, As, Mg, SIs also an indicator plant for phosphorus-rich habitats, can be used as coating materials for supplying the phosphorus.
Glycyrrhiza spp.Species in lakritsrotsläktetP, N2
Lupinus spp.LupinerP, N2Can be invasive under certain conditions.
Medicago sativaBlålusernFaith, N2Nitrogen-fixing and good at taking up iron from the soil. Good at building soil because of its deep, finhåriga root system.
Nasturtium officinaleWATERCRESSK, P, As, S, Faith, Mg, InAccumulates most plant nutrients.
Rumex spp.Acids and docksK, P, As, Faith, InVery good at taking up most plant nutrients.
Stellaria mediaVårarvK, POften regarded as weeds. Edible.
Symphytum spp.VallörtK, P, As, With, Faith, MgOne of the best herbage dynamic accumulators. The sterile variety 'Bocking 14' should be selected to prevent an invasion of comfrey.
Taraxacum officinaleMaskrosK, P, As, With, FaithOften regarded as weeds. Based soil and is edible with very high nutritional values.
Urtica dioicaStinging nettleK, As, S, With, Faith, InOften regarded as weeds. The young leaves are highly nutritious.
Vicia spp.VickerläktetK, P, N2Includes for example:. bondbönor (In. Bean, which, however, are one-year) and ärtvicker (In. pisiformis) which have edible beans.


[1] Jacket, D. and E. Toensmeier, Edible forest gardens. White River Junction, Vt.: Chelsea Green Pub. Co., 2005.
[2] Ferguson, R. and S. Lovell, Permaculture for agroecology: design, movement, practice, and worldview. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development: p. 1-24, 2013.
[3] Kourik, R.K.M., Designing and maintaining your edible landscape naturally. Santa Rosa, CA; Emmaus, PA: Metamorphic Press ; Distribution, Rodale Press, 1986.

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7 thoughts on “What are dynamic accumulators?”

  • Tack, vilken fin sammanställning 🙂
    Do most people already…särskilt de sk ogräsen 😉 Intressant att läsa om älggräset och fosfor ! Will take a trip to the forest ditch and bringing home a little. Hay herb I have three varieties, unfortunately not Bocking 14, but I think they stay quite calm when you hold on and cut them several times per season. But certainly spread it anyway and show up in the compost tex. Do you know if the yellow grassland herb is as effective as accumulator ?
    Lisa / Lisa garden

    • Vallörternas ability to store the minerals varies apparently greatly between species, varieties and hybrids. It says a lot about them in the book “Comfrey – Past, Present and Future” av Lawrence Hills. Bocking 14 to be the best in that regard, and grown to a large scale feed plant for pigs in England in the early 1900s. Unfortunately I have no track of yellow comfrey.

  • Hi,
    Thanks for an interesting lecture on dynamic accumulators. It sounds very reasonable that it works so, at least intuitively. Is there any research on the subject? references seem manuals. Do they contain any references to research?

    In conservation, there is also a general presumption that the presence and pollarding of trees also contribute to improved nutritional status in grassland (Also based on experience, what I know).
    Mollusc keeps track of which trees have leaves with high pH (fra Ca ), for the benefit of calcium consuming mollusks. There is often mentioned Salix genus as the best lignoserna. Other, of you not already mentioned, är ask, hassel och asp, and probably our two native maples.

    I guess it is fundamental to most of the above accumulators that you reap / underestimate them on leaves and branches to break down the root system and growth parts because they probably have the bulk of the root systems are shallow in the topsoil and “steals” nutrients and water from the environment. Among the above, I have difficulty understanding how svinmållan be able to join with the accumulators. That it has nutritious leaves should reasonably not be enough if it still only collects nutrients from the most superficial soil layers? Lambsquarters that I know it pops up on fra extremely nutritious loose soil. But it is clear, that if the concept of dynamic accumulator also includes species that is good at taking up nutrients wherever, so that you can harvest and IMPLEMENTING it to its cultivation, so it might qualify in, although I see it as more convenient to svinmållans case fetch of the earth stand in instead? If true, should pretty much all C-strategists (~ Competitive species) wisdom of the list, tex hundkäx, nettle, kirskål, Canadian goldenrod, mjölkört, hundäxing, kvickrot, etc.? Tysklönnen spreading much of the country, and in Germany it is considered by some to nitrogen enrichment contributing to its spreading of spillages to fömån for species less able to take up fr.a N, tex bok.

    • Thanks for the detailed comment! Intrigued by the plants which you mention. That research is the crux, the topic has been studied very little. I have no relevant hits at all on “Dynamic Accumulators” på Google Scholar. This list shall be based on scientific procedures, but I have not been able to get it confirmed and therefore has not included it in the post: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Aoz8GE1bbsDjdDdxSjA3dWxKaU5qU2xVZUFUcHR4RGc&usp=sharing#gid=0. Eric Toensmeier that underlies much of the list as I show here has even gone so far as to refrain from talking about the concept before there is more research available. But as you enter, there is a lot of experience values ​​that go on and grassland herb and alder proved to be some of the most important plants in Martin Crawford's forest garden to kick-start dynamics where.

      Why lambsquarters ended up on the list I do not see either in retrospect. Here you can see that they have very shallow root systems: http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/plantbiology/ncsc/Poisonplants/images/fig9.jpg, which indeed just moving around the nutrients in the upper soil layers. However should horsetail, coltsfoot and thistles termed as dynamic accumulators, is http://www.vaxteko.nu/html/sll/sjv/tradg_radg_inform/ODL20/OD90T07.GIF for a picture of their very deep root system. Obviously, it remains to some research, and above all a clear definition of what is meant by dynamic accumulator!

  • I also want to strike a blow for native plants when possible. I understand the use and deployment of easily cultured exothermic who has good edible fruit if they do not spread too much, but generally should probably be as restrictive one can, especially with exothermic from other continents, partly through the risks of invasion of nature (if one is critical of eg. gmo is invasisionsresonemanget valid also for these “aliens”) but especially considering that many of them have a limited role in our ecological food webs (what we know). Many of our animals- and fungal species are specialists in one or a few host plants. There is every reason to show respect to this even if we have many, and the increasing proportion against the former, generalists who are beyond the control of even exothermic.

    • Thanks for another great comment! This point of view, I hear very often on courses and when I show visitors around the forest garden. In an upcoming post, I will respond to the arguments!

  • Är gröngödslingsväxter en undergrupp till dynamiska ackumulatorer eller är det helt olika begrepp? Jag försöker reda ut begreppen i hjärnan (:D

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