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Groundnut, Potato Bean, Indian Potato, Virginia Potato, Wild Bean, Wild Sweet Potato - Apios americana


Family: Fabaceae - Pea family Genus Common Name: Groundnut Native Status: NativeDicot Perennial Vine Herb
Apios americana - Groundnut, Potato Bean, Indian Potato, Virginia Potato, Wild Bean, Wild Sweet Potato. Two of the 8 to 10 Apios species in the world are found in the U.S. - the narrowly distributed and U.S. Threatened Apios priceana, Price’s Potato Bean, and the species presented here, Apios americana, Groundnut. Apios americana is found in every state east of the Rocky Mountains. It is a perennial vine that grows to 10 feet long in wet areas - marshy meadows and thickets, stream and pond banks, and moist woodlands.

The common names attributed to these species speak to the edibility of both the tuber and the seeds. Apios americana was a noteworthy food of both native Americans as well as early colonists of New England. It is a good source of carbohydrates and protein.

Found in:
AL, AR, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV

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Apios americana

Distribution of Apios americana in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 25 Jun 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2013-August-13Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
Groundnut blooms from mid-summer to early fall in dense racemes rising from the leaf axils. The flowers are pea-like.
Apios americana

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2013-August-13Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Blossom Detail of Apios americana.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Apios americana

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2013-August-13Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Apios Americana is a perennial vine growing up to 10 feet long. The inflorescences grow from the axils of the pinnate leaves.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Apios americana

Site: Walker County, GA Date: 2013-August-13Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The leaves of Groundnut are odd-pinnate, with both the leaves and the leaflets (except the terminal leaflet) being opposing. The dark green leaflets can be up to 2.5 inches long; the pinnate leaf up to 8 inches long.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Apios americana

References used for identification and information:

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer