Nitrogen Fixing Trees: Best Benefits and Species is a treasure trove of knowledge for those interested in natural healing and herbal remedies. The website is run by Paul Johnston MD. A naturopathic who has not only received extensive education in the field but also has personal experience in self-healing.

Nitrogen fixing trees also knows as NFT’s are a fascinating group of trees that have the ability to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that can be used by plants. This process, called nitrogen fixation, is carried out by nitrogen fixing bacteria that live in the roots of these trees.

The nitrogen that is fixed can then be used by other plants in the area, making nitrogen fixing trees an important part of many ecosystems.

One of the benefits of NFT’s is that they can improve the fertility of soil in an area. By fixing nitrogen, they are able to increase the amount of nitrogen available to other plants in the area, which can lead to increased growth and productivity.

Nitrogen fixing trees are also able to grow in areas where other plants may not be able to, due to the lack of available nitrogen in the soil.

There are many different types of NFT’s, including legumes, which are a type of plant that produce seeds in pods. Some examples of nitrogen fixing trees include the black locust, alder, and acacia.

These trees can be found in many different ecosystems, from forests to grasslands to wetlands. Understanding the role of NFT’s in these ecosystems is an important part of understanding how these ecosystems function.

Basics of Nitrogen Fixation

A lush forest with nitrogen-fixing trees, their roots interacting with soil bacteria to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form usable by plants

As a permaculture enthusiast, I have come to appreciate the importance of nitrogen fixation in sustainable agriculture. Nitrogen is a crucial element in plant growth, and nitrogen fixing trees provide a natural solution to the problem of nitrogen deficiency in soils.

In this section, I will provide an overview of the basics of nitrogen fixation.

Biological Nitrogen Fixation

Biological nitrogen fixation is the process by which certain bacteria convert atmospheric nitrogen (N2) into ammonia (NH3) that can be used by plants. This process is essential for the nitrogen cycle and is the primary source of nitrogen for most ecosystems.

Nitrogen fixation can occur in free-living bacteria, but it is most commonly associated with symbiotic relationships between bacteria and plants.

Symbiotic Relationships in Nitrogen Fixation

In symbiotic nitrogen fixation, bacteria form a mutually beneficial relationship with plants. The bacteria, which may be rhizobia or frankia, colonize the plant’s roots and form nodules.

The nodules provide a protected environment for the bacteria to convert atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, which the plant can use for growth. In return, the plant provides the bacteria with carbohydrates and other nutrients.

Nitrogen Fixing Trees and Forests

As a permaculturist, I believe that nitrogen fixing trees play a crucial role in forest ecosystems. These trees have the ability to form a symbiotic relationship with certain bacteria that allow them to convert nitrogen gas into a form that is usable for other plant life. This process is known as biological nitrogen fixation.

Role in Forest Ecosystems

NFT’s play a key role in maintaining the health and biodiversity of forest ecosystems. They provide a source of nitrogen for other plants, which is essential for growth and development.

In addition, they help to improve soil fertility and prevent erosion, which is particularly important in tropical forests where the soil is often nutrient-poor.

One of the most important roles that nitrogen fixing trees play in forest ecosystems is reforestation. When forests are cleared for agriculture or other purposes, the soil is often depleted of nutrients. By planting NFT’s, we can help to restore the soil and create conditions that are favorable for other plant life to grow.

Diversity of Nitrogen Fixing Trees

There are many different species of NFT’s, each with its own unique characteristics and benefits. Some of the most common species include acacias, alders, and legumes.

These trees can be found in a variety of different environments, from tropical rainforests to temperate forests and even deserts.

Environmental Impact

Lush green forest with nitrogen-fixing trees. Birds fly above, while small animals roam below. The trees provide shade and support diverse plant life

Climate Change and Nitrogen Fixation

As a result of the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the Earth’s climate is changing. Nitrogen-fixing trees have the potential to exacerbate climate change by emitting nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas.

According to a theoretical model, symbiotic nitrogen-fixing trees could either mitigate or exacerbate climate change relative to non-fixing trees, depending on the balance between CO2 sequestration and soil N2O emissions [1].

Nitrogen Fixation and Soil Health

Nitrogen fixation can fuel CO2 sequestration by forests but can also stimulate soil emissions of nitrous oxide. Nitrogen-fixing trees can affect soil moisture, organic matter, and nutrient cycling.

Nitrogen fixation can also lead to changes in the composition of soil microbial communities, which can have implications for nutrient cycling and soil health [2].

Agricultural and Permaculture Applications

Nitrogen-fixing trees are planted among crops, providing natural fertilizer. Permaculture techniques are used to create a sustainable, diverse agricultural landscape

Nitrogen fixing trees have several applications in agriculture and permaculture. In this section, I will discuss two of the most important applications of NFT’s: agroforestry systems and improving soil fertility.

Agroforestry Systems

Nitrogen fixing trees are an essential component of agroforestry systems. Agroforestry is a land use management system that combines trees, crops, and/or livestock in a single system.

NFT’s are particularly useful in agroforestry systems because they can fix atmospheric nitrogen and provide a natural source of fertilizer for crops. This reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers and helps to maintain soil fertility.

NFT’s can also provide other benefits in agroforestry systems. For example, they can provide shade for crops, which can help to reduce heat stress and increase yields. They can also provide habitat for beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife, which can help to control pests and improve pollination.

Improving Soil Fertility

Nitrogen fixing trees can also be used to improve soil fertility in agricultural and permaculture systems.

When NFT’s are planted in an area, they can help to increase the amount of nitrogen in the soil. This can improve the growth and health of crops and other plants in the area.

In addition to fixing nitrogen, NFT’s can also help to improve soil structure and reduce erosion. When the leaves and branches of NFT’s fall to the ground, they can provide a natural source of mulch, which can help to retain moisture in the soil and reduce erosion. The roots of nitrogen fixing trees can also help to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion.

Species of Nitrogen Fixing Trees

A forest floor with nitrogen-fixing trees towering above, their roots reaching deep into the soil, surrounded by diverse plant life thriving in their presence

As the name suggests, NFT’s are trees that have the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it into a form that can be used by plants. These trees form a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria that are present in their root nodules. There are two main types of NFT’s – leguminous and non-leguminous.

Leguminous Nitrogen Fixing Trees

Leguminous trees belong to the family Leguminosae, which includes plants such as beans, peas, and lentils. Leguminous NFT’s have the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen through their symbiotic relationship with rhizobia bacteria.

Some of the most common leguminous NFT’s include acacia, alder, and black locust. Acacia is a fast-growing tree that is commonly used for reforestation and erosion control. Alder is a tree that is commonly found in wetland areas, and is known for its ability to improve soil fertility. Black locust is a tree that is commonly used for fence posts and other outdoor applications due to its durability and resistance to rot.

Non-Leguminous Nitrogen Fixing Trees

Non-leguminous NFT’s form a symbiotic relationship with other types of nitrogen fixing bacteria such as Frankia.

Some of the most common non-leguminous NFT’s include the Kentucky coffee tree, golden chain tree, and mesquite. The Kentucky coffee tree is a large tree that is native to North America, and is known for its ability to fix nitrogen and improve soil fertility.

The golden chain tree is a small tree that is commonly used for ornamental purposes due to its bright yellow flowers. Mesquite is a tree that is commonly found in arid and semi-arid regions, and is known for its ability to fix nitrogen and improve soil fertility.

Practical Considerations

A lush forest with nitrogen-fixing trees towering above the dense undergrowth, their roots intertwining with the earth, creating a vibrant and diverse ecosystem

Planting and Management

When it comes to planting nitrogen fixing trees, there are a few practical considerations to keep in mind.

First and foremost, it’s important to choose the right species of tree for your particular climate and soil conditions. Some NFT’s, such as alder and black locust, prefer moist soils, while others, such as mesquite and acacia, can tolerate dry conditions.

Once you’ve chosen the right species of tree, it’s important to prepare the planting site properly. This may involve scarification of the soil to help the seeds germinate, as well as trellising or staking to ensure that the young trees grow straight and tall.

Good management practices, such as regular watering and fertilization, can also help to promote healthy growth and nutrient availability.

Monitoring and Maintenance

After planting your NFT’s, it’s important to monitor their growth and health regularly. This may involve checking for signs of nutrient deficiency or disease, as well as monitoring water use efficiency to ensure that the trees are getting the right amount of water.

Regular pruning and thinning can also help to promote healthy growth and improve nutrient availability.

In terms of maintenance, it’s important to keep the area around your NFT’s clear of weeds and debris, as this can compete with the trees for nutrients and water. Mulching can also help to retain moisture in the soil and improve nutrient availability.

Finally, it’s important to be patient and allow your trees to grow and mature over time, as they can take several years to reach their full potential.

Global Perspectives

A lush forest with diverse trees, some with nodules on their roots, enriching the soil with nitrogen. The canopy is dense, with sunlight filtering through, and diverse wildlife thrives among the trees

Nitrogen Fixation on a Global Scale

As I explore the topic of nitrogen fixation, it becomes apparent that this process is critical for the health of our planet’s ecosystems. Nitrogen-fixing trees are an important component of this process, as they have the ability to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that can be used by plants.

This process is essential for plant growth and is a significant part of the global carbon cycle.

The global distribution and evolution of nitrogen-fixing trees are linked, and this connection has been studied by scientists around the world.

A recent study published in the journal Nature [1] proposes a new theory that explains this relationship. The study suggests that the evolution of nitrogen-fixing trees is directly linked to the global distribution of these trees.

The researchers used the universal language of DNA to trace the evolutionary history of these trees and found that they have a shared ancestry.

Policy and Sustainability

Nitrogen fixation is essential for the health of our planet’s ecosystems, and it is also an important part of sustainable agriculture.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the use of nitrogen-fixing trees in managed forests and by farmers.

The National Science Foundation has funded several research projects to explore the potential of these trees as carbon sinks and to develop sustainable farming practices [2].

However, the use of nitrogen-fixing trees in agriculture and forestry is not without its challenges. These trees require specific environmental conditions to thrive, and they can be difficult to manage.

Additionally, the long-term effects of these trees on soil health and ecosystem functioning are not yet fully understood.

Despite these challenges, the use of nitrogen-fixing trees has the potential to play a significant role in sustainable agriculture and forestry.

As we continue to explore the potential of these trees, it is essential that we do so in a way that is both environmentally and economically sustainable.

[1] [2]

Nitrogen Fixing Trees and The Herb Prof: A Rooted Connection

Today, we’re going to branch out into the world of NFT’s and its connection to our herbal haven,

NFT’s, those leafy giants, are a testament to the symbiotic relationships in nature we celebrate at Each tree is a reminder of the vital role of nitrogen in plant growth.

When you visit, you’re not just surfing a website. You’re joining a community that values the balance of nature and the importance of soil health.

And here’s the twist! Our guide on NFT’s is a part of this journey. Each time you plant a nitrogen-fixing tree, you’re embracing the wonders of botany and contributing to the health of our planet. These are the same principles we uphold and share on

So, our guide on NFT’s and are like two trees in the same forest, growing together, learning from each other, and reaching for the sun. You can check our homepage here.

Remember, every nitrogen-fixing tree you plant adds to the health of our gardens, just like every visit to helps our community grow. So, let’s keep planting those NFT’s and nurturing our bond with After all, we’re all gardeners in this big, beautiful garden we call Earth!

References – Nitrogen Fixing Trees

Little Herb Encyclopedia, by Jack Ritchason; N.D., Woodland Publishing Incorporated, 1995
The Ultimate Healing System, Course Manual, Copyright 1985, Don Lepore
Planetary Herbology, Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., Lotus Press, 1988
Handbook of Medicinal Herbs, by James A. Duke, Pub. CRP Second Edition 2007
The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Published by Dorling Kindersley

Check the Following Articles!

How Soon to Fertilize Seedlings?

How Much Sun Do Aloe Plants Need?

Cucumber Plant Leaves

Planting Flower Seeds Outdoors

Frequently Asked Questions – Nitrogen Fixing Trees

A lush forest with diverse tree species, including nitrogen fixing trees, surrounded by curious onlookers with questions

What are the benefits of integrating nitrogen-fixing trees in agroforestry systems?

Nitrogen-fixing trees provide numerous benefits when integrated into agroforestry systems. They help improve soil fertility, increase crop yield, and reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers.

Additionally, they can improve soil structure and water-holding capacity, which can lead to better plant growth and reduced soil erosion.

Which fruit trees are also known for their nitrogen-fixing abilities?

Several fruit trees are known for their nitrogen-fixing abilities, including the black locust, honey locust, and mulberry. These trees can be used in agroforestry systems to improve soil fertility and increase crop yield.

How do nitrogen-fixing bacteria in trees contribute to soil fertility?

Nitrogen-fixing bacteria in trees form a symbiotic relationship with the tree roots, where they convert atmospheric nitrogen gas into a form that can be used by the tree.

This process, known as nitrogen fixation, helps to improve soil fertility by increasing the amount of nitrogen available to plants.

What are some common nitrogen-fixing trees suitable for Zone 7 climates?

Some common nitrogen-fixing trees suitable for Zone 7 climates include the black locust, honey locust, red alder, and Siberian pea shrub. These trees are well adapted to the climate and can help improve soil fertility in agroforestry systems.

Can you list edible nitrogen-fixing trees?

Yes, some edible nitrogen-fixing trees include the honey locust, carob, and mesquite. These trees not only provide nitrogen to the soil but also produce edible fruits or pods that can be used for food.

What are the characteristics of small nitrogen-fixing trees?

Small nitrogen-fixing trees are typically fast-growing and have a relatively short lifespan.

They are well-suited for small-scale agroforestry systems and can be used to provide nitrogen to the soil while also producing edible fruits or nuts. Some examples of small nitrogen-fixing trees include the Siberian pea shrub and the goumi berry.

Spread the love

Leave a Comment