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Amphicarpaea bracteata - (L.)Rickett.&Stafleu.

Common Name Hog Peanut, American hogpeanut
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 4-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Cool damp woodlands[43, 200].
Range Eastern N. America - New Brunswick to Florida, west to Manitoba and Louisiana.
Edibility Rating    (5 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade
Amphicarpaea bracteata Hog Peanut, American hogpeanut

(c) 2010 Ken Fern & Plants For A Future
Amphicarpaea bracteata Hog Peanut, American hogpeanut


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Amphicarpaea bracteata is a PERENNIAL CLIMBER growing to 1.5 m (5ft).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf from May to October, in flower from August to September, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


A. monoica. (L.)Ell. Falcata comosa. (L.)Kuntze.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Root  Seed
Edible Uses:

Seed - raw or cooked[2, 161]. Two types of seed are produced - flowers produced near the ground produce a pod that buries itself just below soil level. These pods contain a single seed are up to 15mm in diameter which can be used as a peanut substitute. They can be harvested throughout the winter and can be eaten raw or cooked[2, 63, 95, 161]. They are sweet and delicious raw with a taste that is more like shelled garden beans than peanuts[183]. Yields are rather low, and it can be a fiddle finding the seeds, but they do make a very pleasant and nutritious snack[K]. Other flowers higher up the plant produce seed pods that do not bury themselves. The seeds in these pods are much smaller and are usually cooked before being eaten[95, 183]. They can be used in all the same ways as lentils and are a good source of protein[K]. The overall crop of these seeds is rather low and they are also fiddly to harvest[K]. Root - cooked[177, 257]. The root is peeled, boiled and then eaten[257]. Fleshy and nutritious according to one report[200], whilst another says that the root is too small to be of much importance in the diet[257]. Our plants have only produced small and stringy roots[K].

References   More on Edible Uses

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.

An infusion of the root has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea[257]. Externally, the root has been applied to bites from rattlesnakes[257]. A poultice of the pulverized leaves has been applied with any salve to swellings[257].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Nitrogen Fixer.

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Food Forest  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Agroforestry Services: Understory legume  Historic Crop  Management: Fodder  Management: Standard  Staple Crop: Protein

Requires a moist humus-rich soil in a shady position[200]. The young shoots in spring can be damaged by late frosts[K]. The hog peanut has occasionally been cultivated for its edible seed which has been used as a peanut substitute[183]. Yields at present, however, are rather low[K]. Two types of blossom are produced by the plant - those produced from the leaf axils mostly abort but a few seeds are produced[95]. Solitary, inconspicuous cleistogamous flowers are produced on thread-like stems near the root and, after flowering, the developing seedpods bury themselves into the soil in a manner similar to peanuts[95, 274]. 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]. For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. A self-seeding plant [1-2]. Growth habit is herbaceous. Growth habit is a single or multiple shooting vine from a crown [1-2]. The root pattern is fibrous dividing into a large number of fine roots [1-2].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Agroforestry Services: Understory legume  Legume vegetation, especially the trees and shrubs growing between the forest canopy and the forest floor.
  • Historic Crop  These crops were once cultivated but have been abandoned. The reasons for abandonment may include colonization, genocide, market pressures, the arrival of superior crops from elsewhere, and so forth.
  • Management: Fodder  Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • 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

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The PFAF Bookshop

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Plant Propagation

Seed - pre-soak for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring in a semi-shaded position in a greenhouse. Germination usually takes place within a few weeks. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out in late spring or early summer. Division. We have been unable to divide this plant because it only makes a small taproot. However, many of the seeds are produced under the ground and these can be harvested like tubers and potted up to make more plants.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

NORTHERN AMERICA: Canada, Québec, Nova Scotia, Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan (east), Manitoba (south), United States, Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Montana, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida (north), Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas (east),

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
Amphicarpaea edgeworthii Perennial1.5 -  LMHFSM40 
Amphicarpaea pitcheriHog PeanutPerennial1.5 -  LMHFSM50 

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.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

nastassja   Mon Sep 18 2006

Í´m hoping that someone might be able to help me out... Right now i´m in the appalachian mountains in western northcarolina and am learning about edible plants. i´ve got two questions... firstly, i´m having problems differentiating between amphicarpa bracteata and phaseolus polystachios (the latter is not in pfaf, but it is a wild bean plant that looks almost exactly like hog peanut) does anyone have a handy way of differentiating? ´habitat is not helping because this plant is in all different zones. secondly, can amphicarpea bracteata´s leaves be eaten? i am hunching that the plant is hog peanut (because this area usually gets alot of rain, though this past summer there was a drought), and if so, the leaves look delicious! my partner ate a couple last night and nothing happened -- does anyone have any experience eating the leaves of hog peanut? thirdly, although i am hunching that the plant is hog peanut, i have not found the peanut in the ground! currently it is mid september and according to pfaf the seed should be ripening during this time... are there any tricks to finding the peanut? i have followed the flower shoots, but the few flower shoots that extend to the ground do not have any seed pods in the ground, but maybe i am over looking the seed pods if they are smaller than a quarter centimeter? Because i am in the southern mountains, should i wait another month for the seed pods to begin ripening? if anyone has any tips or can answer these questions their assistance would be greatly appreciated. whatever this plant is, it sure would be a great addition to the plants we are storing up for this upcoming winter. thanks for your time, nastassja

Ken Fern   Wed Sep 20 2006

The most easily recognised difference between hog peanut and phaseolus polystachios is the fact that the hog peanut is usually hairy the phaseolus is usually hairless. Phaseolus is also a perennial whilst hog peanut is an annual. In addition,the seed pods of phaseolus are larger and the aerial flowers are carried in looser racemes. The large edible seeds of hog peanut are produced from special flowers near the base of the plant. These flowers produce their seed without opening so you do not see any petals. The seed pods, which are buried in the top inch of soil, usually contain one or two seeds. The pod is of an irreguler shape and looks rather like a small lump of earth that can be an inch or even more in diameter.

Trevor Giles   Wed Sep 27 2006

Although I find the hogbean an interesting plant my garden has become infested with them over the last ten years. can anyone tell me how to eradicate without the use of banned and noxious herbicdes? Or do I have to 'harvest' each plant individually on my hands and knees and secondarily gain a small bowl of "nibblies"/

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