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Apios americana - Medik.

Common Name Ground Nut
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 3-9
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    (5 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Apios americana Ground Nut

(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future
Apios americana Ground Nut


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Groundnut - Apios americana is a herbaceous perennial climber with edible tubers, seeds and leaves. It scrambles over shrubs or will twine around supports.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Apios americana is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.2 m (4ft).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 3. It is in leaf from April to November, in flower from June to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


A. tuberosa. Glycine tuberosa.

Plant 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 ]. The seedpods are 5 - 13cm long, containing 6 - 13 small seeds[418 ]. Young seedpods[55 , 62 , 95 , 177 ]. The seedpods are up to 13cm long[418 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

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].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Companion  Latex

There is one report that the plant contains a latex which could be used in the production of rubber[269].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest  Nitrogen Fixer  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Edible Beans  Management: Standard  New Crop for Tubers  Staple Crop: Protein

Apios american tolerates a range of climatic conditions, producing well in cool temperate zones as well as the subtropical conditions of South Florida[269 ]. Prefers a light, rich soil and a sunny position[1, 27 ]. When grown in a warm dry situation in 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 ]. Prefers a pH in the range of 5 - 7.5, tolerating 4.5 - 8.5[418 ]. Dislikes windy situations[K ]. Apios americana is a plant of the temperate zone, where it is found at elevations up to 1,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range of 10 - 20°c but can tolerate 8 - 30°c[418 ]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -40°c, though young growth can be damaged by frosts[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 1,200mm, but tolerates 700 - 1,500mm[418 ].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 ]. The flowers have the 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 ]. ]. No pruning needed, it will die down in the fall.

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Edible Beans  Grown for Edible Beans.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • New Crop for Tubers  Most new crops were important wild plants until recently, although some are the result of hybridization. They have been developed in the last few, decades. What they have in common is that they are currently cultivated by farmers.
  • Staple Crop: Protein  (16+ percent protein, 0-15 percent oil). Annuals include beans, chickpeas, lentils, cowpeas, and pigeon peas. Perennials include perennial beans, nuts, leaf protein concentrates, and edible milks.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



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Plant 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.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Wild Potato, Potato bean, Hopniss, American groundnut, Indian potato

US Native Distribution: New Brunswick and Nova Scotia; New England south to Florida; west to Louisiana and Texas; north to Minnesota, particularly Great Lakes area.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Apios fortuneiHodo, HodoimoPerennial2.0 4-9  LMSNM513
Apios priceanaTraveler's delightPerennial3.0 6-9  LMSNM503

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment

Apios americana

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



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

   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 [email protected]

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.

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

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?

   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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