Rick’s Native Plant of the Month | American Groundnut

October 17, 2022
Bridge Gardens

Did you know that “Sagaponack” means “place where the groundnut grows?” Groundnut, or Apios americana, is a native climbing vine and member of the pea family. In mid-to late-summer, it has attractive, maroon-ish flowers in compact clusters that arise from the bases of its compound leaves.

Groundnut produces edible tubers underground. These were gathered by indigenous peoples throughout its large range to add to soups and stews and by colonists during their early lean years. Recent research has investigated groundnut’s use as an agricultural crop.

Groundnut grows naturally in wetlands and tidal basins, but it also grows wild in meadows and average soils from Canada to Florida and west to the Mississippi. Preferring partial shade, it’s a vigorous vine, reaching twenty feet or more at the southern end of its range. You can see groundnut in bloom now at the very end of the Vegetable Garden, right near the pawpaw trees.

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