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Apios americana - Medik.                
                 
Common Name Ground Nut
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
Synonyms A. tuberosa. Glycine tuberosa.
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Usually found in low damp bottomland or riparian woods and thickets, it is also often found round ancient Indian campsites[43, 62, 269].
Range N. America - Pennsylvania. Occasionally naturalized in S. Europe[50].
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Apios americana is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.2 m (4ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. It is in leaf 11-Apr It is in flower from Jun to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It can fix Nitrogen.


USDA hardiness zone : 3-7


Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Apios americana Ground Nut


(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future
Apios americana Ground Nut
   
Habitats       
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Root;  Seed;  Seedpod.
Edible Uses:

Tuber - raw or cooked[1, 2, 27, 55, 62, 63]. A delicious flavour somewhat like roasted sweet potatoes, it always receives very high marks in taste trials with us[K]. The tuber can also be dried and ground into a powder then used as a thickening in soups etc or can be added to cereal flours when making bread[132, 257]. Tubers contain 17% crude protein, this is more than 3 times that found in potatoes[183]. The tubers can be harvested in their first year but they take 2 - 3 years to become a sizeable crop[160]. They can be harvested at any time of the year but are at their best in the autumn[160]. The tubers can also be harvested in the autumn and will store until at least the spring[K]. Yields of 2.3 kilos of tubers per plant have been achieved[222]. Seed - cooked[62]. Rather small and not produced very freely[K], they are used like peas and beans[183, 213]. A good source of protein, they can be ground into a powder and added to cereals when making bread etc[257]. Young seedpods[55, 62, 95, 177].
Composition                                         
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Root (Fresh weight)
  • 0 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 17g; Fat: 0g; Carbohydrate: 0g; Fibre: 0g; Ash: 0g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 0mg; Phosphorus: 0mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
  • Reference: [ ]
  • Notes:
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.



The tubers were used in folk remedies for that cancerous condition known as "Proud Flesh" in New England. Nuts were boiled and made into a plaster, "For to eat out the proud flesh they (the Indians) take a kind of earth nut boyled and stamped"[269].
Other Uses
Latex.

There is one report that the plant contains a latex which could be used in the production of rubber[269].
Cultivation details                                         
Prefers a light rich soil and a sunny position[1, 27]. When grown in a warm dry situation in a well-drained sandy soil, the plants will be long lived with the tuberous roots increasing in size and number each year[245]. Another report says that the plant prefers light dappled shade[200]. It tolerates acid soils[160]. Dislikes windy situations[K]. Groundnut is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation in the range of 97 to 117cm, an average annual temperature range of 9.9 to 20.3°C and a pH in the range of 4.5 to 7.0[269]. It tolerates a range of climatic conditions and produces well in cool temperate zones as well as the subtropical conditions of South Florida[269]. Whilst most reports suggest that this species should be cold hardy in all parts of Britain, one report says that the plants may require protection in severe winters[134]. The groundnut has occasionally been cultivated for its edible root and has the potential to become a commercial crop[95, 183]. Cultivars have been selected in the past for higher yields and larger tubers, it is said that the yields from some of these cultivars can rival potato crops[95, 183]. Some of these cultivars are gradually becoming available in Britain[K]. The best yields are obtained when the plant is left in the ground for at least two growing seasons. Yields of 30 tonnes per hectare have been achieved from weed crops growing in a field of cranberries[269]. This species has been grown in the past in S. Europe[46, 50] and has been suggested as a nitrogen-fixing edible ornamental for permaculturalists[222]. The plant forms long thin roots which enlarge at intervals along their length to form the tubers, the effect is somewhat like a necklace[K]. Plants can be invasive once they are established[200] and have become a weed of cultivated cranberry crops in N. America[269]. A climbing plant, twining around the thin branches of other plants for support[K]. The flowers have a scent of violets[245]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - pre-soak for 3 hours in tepid water and sow February/March in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 15°c[134]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out in late spring or early summer. Division can be carried out at almost any time of the year, though spring is probably the best time. Simply dig up the roots, harvest the tubers and replant them where you want the plants to grow. It is also possible to harvest the tuber in winter, store them in a cool fairly dry but frost-free place over the winter and then plant them out in the spring. The tubers lose moisture rapidly once they have been harvested, so make sure that you store them in a damp medium such as leafmold.
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Expert comment                                         
 
Administrator .
The source of this page is James A. Duke (1983), "Handbook of Energy Crops," an unpublished work. A complete list of references are provided through a separate link here: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/refa-f.html. NOTE: the link does NOT refer to Duke Energy. Apr 22 2011 12:00AM
Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plant Products
      
Author                                         
Medik.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
43200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[27]Vilmorin. A. The Vegetable Garden.
A reprint of a nineteenth century classic, giving details of vegetable varieties. Not really that informative though.
[43]Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany.
A bit dated but good and concise flora of the eastern part of N. America.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[50]? Flora Europaea
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
[55]Harris. B. C. Eat the Weeds.
Interesting reading.
[62]Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants.
Very readable.
[63]Howes. F. N. Nuts.
Rather old but still a masterpiece. Has sections on tropical and temperate plants with edible nuts plus a section on nut plants in Britain. Very readable.
[95]Saunders. C. F. Edible and Useful Wild Plants of the United States and Canada.
Useful wild plants of America. A pocket guide.
[132]Bianchini. F., Corbetta. F. and Pistoia. M. Fruits of the Earth.
Lovely pictures, a very readable book.
[134]Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 2.
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation. An interesting article on Ensete ventricosum.
[160]Natural Food Institute, Wonder Crops. 1987.
Fascinating reading, this is an annual publication. Some reports do seem somewhat exaggerated though.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[213]Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food.
A nice book to read though it is difficult to look up individual plants since the book is divided into separate sections dealing with the different medicinal uses plus a section on edible plants. Common names are used instead of botanical.
[222]Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
[245]Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World.
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.
[257]Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
[269]Duke. J. Handbook of Energy Crops
Published only on the Internet, excellent information on a wide range of plants.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Tue Jan 4 00:25:53 2005
Apios seems to like our heavy clay soil just fine. I planted 4 small roots 8 years ago, and last year decided our only salvation was to eat our way out, but that didn't work. We keep trying, but it keeps spreading. A friend we hadn't seen in years laughed when I mentioned Apios and offered to show us the quarter acre he has of it. He said it killed the honeysuckle, which is a notorious and indestructable invasive here. We do like Apios very much, and it doesn't attract and feed the meadow voles the way sunchokes do. Apparently the latex makes it unpalatable raw. Donna Hudson redherring@tnaccess.com
Elizabeth H.
Donna L Phillips Tue Jun 1 13:33:12 2004
I have found the groundnut,apios americana, growing wild on a gully (small stream) on my 10 acre property in Beauregard Parish, Southwest Louisiana. I was intrigued by the unusual bloom and decided to do some research with fantastic results. I first identified it through "Wildflowers of the Big Thicket, East Texas, and Western Louisiana" by Geyata Ajilvsgi. Then, having a name for the plant, I was able to get extensive information on the WEB. My plant has a mauvey-pink color and grows from the edge of the stream bed, with its roots in the moist soil of the stream. This stream overflows during heavy rains and is sometimes underwater and saturated for long periods of time. It is in a partially shaded location. I hope to gather some seed and tubers to try domestication in my garden. Interestingly, we have lived on this property for over 20 years and I have never noticed this plant. The foliage is somewhat insignificant as I have many vines that grow along this gully. The bloom was what caught my eye.
Elizabeth H.
Nancy Mehegan Fri Feb 29 2008
I frequently came across this plant in early journals of settlers and explorers. You can purchase the plant from Tripple Brook Farms www.tripplebrookfarm.com . They have a lot of native plants. I did buy one and am familiarizing myself with it, so one day I can locate in the wild with confidence. Also want to grow it and perhaps sell it one day.

Tripple Brook Farm sels US Native plants

Elizabeth H.
Teresa Mon Mar 3 2008
I looked for futurefoods.com and they say the site is under construction. Is there another source for ground nuts? Or does anyone have the phone number for Future Foods so I can get a catalog?
Alexander I.
Nov 28 2010 12:00AM
APIOS AMERICANA. Groundnuts are the only nut in the world that grows below the ground (peanuts are not nuts by the way!). The plant sends shoots into the earth and form pods. Allow this to develop for 2 months (the plant will turn yellow). It is a highly nutritious plant in that it has 2 1/2 times the protein of an egg (..which is considered by some to be the perfect protein). Only a few amino acids are lacking in the groundnut but milk has them and makes a good drink when you are eating groundnuts. Always chew this nut to a very smooth paste before swallowing or it will resist digestion. Roasting helps it to breakdown in the body too. Some people around the world use it to make a highly nutritious flour for bread. Known to help with people with diabetes and other sugar disorders. Just simply eat a handful before your meal and it helps to maintain sugar levels in the blood, and can further benefit by providing high levels of niacin. People with obesity can benefit also from this herb because it tends to curb appetite. Studies have shown it help in hemophilia. Also useful in diarrhea caused due to nicotinic acid deficiency. Eat the nuts with goats milk and a squeeze of lemon, and it will benefit the patient highly. The oil is good to put on the face before going to bed for acne prevention and nourishment.
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