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Ground nut: apios americana

Beki McCoy


Joined: Feb 07, 2009
Posts: 10
Has anyone got any experience growing this native american nitrogen-fixing vine with highly edible, sweet-potato-like tubers?

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Apios+americana

I've got a couple coming from this fellow:
http://www.maryrowlandson.com/warrensgroundnutstore.html

and am planning to grow them in a half-barrel for a couple of years, to see how they do in my climate.  Warren recommends planting with asparagus, as both take about 3 years before they can be harvested. I would think digging the tubers could disturb the asparagus....

I've found a reference to growing it with sunchokes and mint: the groundnut vine climbs the sunchoke, fixes nitrogen.  Mint is the groundcover. All three are potentially invasive, hmmm...

Beki
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4432
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    4
i've seen it in my Edlible Wild Plants book and it appears to be hardy here but I've never known anyone in our area to grow it..appears also we are on the hardiness edge..let us know how it works out for you


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
Beki McCoy


Joined: Feb 07, 2009
Posts: 10
PFAF mentions it's hardy to Zone 3.  I just haven't heard of anyone growing it on the West Coast yet.

I'm in Zone 7 a/b, just below the Oregon border in California, near Mt. Shasta. We do get some hot, dry summer weather here, and it may need some sun protection then...

Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
my instinct would be that distrurbing the asparagus roots would set them back. they take so long to get established I would hesitate to risk them.


[img]http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n52/havlik1/permie%20pics2/permiepotrait3pdd.jpg[/img]

"One cannot help an involuntary process. The point is not to disturb it. - Dr. Michel Odent
Beki McCoy


Joined: Feb 07, 2009
Posts: 10
Yes, me, too!  It's a pretty flower on a short 3-4 ft vine: I'll probably add a support and more flowers to the barrel for the nonce, treat it as an ornamental.
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4432
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    4
wow a barrel sounds like a great idea..as you would just be able to dump it out to harvest them..right?
Beki McCoy


Joined: Feb 07, 2009
Posts: 10
Yup.  I'm doing that with potatoes this year, growing them in a barrel of rough compost, as I don't have enough beds for a proper rotation. At the end of the season turn the barrel over, pick out the tubers, and you've got compost for another use!
Dave Boehnlein


Joined: Jun 10, 2007
Posts: 290
Location: Orcas Island, WA
    
    2
I haven't tried growing these yet, but I think they have a lot of promise. I think the sunchoke, groundnut, mint guild sounds wonderful. And if you're concerned about having them spread growing them in a container is the perfect solution.

Also, Louisiana State University apparently did a bit of work collecting groundnuts all over the eastern US and put together a breeding program. They selected for larger size and bigger yields. If you're a member, Seed Saver's Exchange offers what is touted to be one of the best from the LSU program. I would imagine that one could also chase up some really good selections by contacting the right person at LSU.

Let us know how it does for you!

Dave


Principal - Terra Phoenix Design
http://TerraPhoenixDesign.com
Beki McCoy


Joined: Feb 07, 2009
Posts: 10
I think I'm going to try that guild in the barrel and see how it does. Will send pictures once it's established...

Beki
jenn Hatfield


Joined: Apr 12, 2009
Posts: 66
Think I just saw some along the road (edge of a field) here. Picked the flower it was so pretty. If it's wild or feral I should be ok swiping one, if not, well....
Dave Boehnlein


Joined: Jun 10, 2007
Posts: 290
Location: Orcas Island, WA
    
    2
I just noticed that Oikos Tree Crops (http://oikostreecrops.com/store/home.asp) has several selections of ground nut available in their new catalog. They are probably worth trying.

Dave
Beki McCoy


Joined: Feb 07, 2009
Posts: 10
Thanks for the resource, Dave!  I like Oikos.

They posted this great groundnut quote:

“Digging one day for fishworms, I discovered the groundnut (Apios tuberosa) on its string, the potato of the aborigines, a sort of fabulous fruit, which had often since seen its crumpled red velvety blossom supported by the stems of
other plants without knowing it to be the same. Cultivation has well nigh exterminated it. It has a sweetish taste, much like that of a frostbitten potato, and I found it better boiled than roasted. The tuber seemed like a faint promise of Nature to rear her own children and feed them simply here at some future period. In these days of fatted cattle and waving grain - fields, this humble root, which was once the totem of an Indian tribe, is quite forgotten...” Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
I searched out this old thread after finding an article on this plant.  It recommends we call this species "hopniss," and notes that in the wild they have an affinity for wood, dead or alive.

They seem a likely choice for hugelkultur, or maybe to plant along a thickly-mulched path and train up the walls of a bed, to be dug as the mulch is replaced.

http://www.wildflowers-and-weeds.com/The_Forager/hopniss.htm


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
stalk of fennel


Joined: Jul 12, 2010
Posts: 123
hugelkultur, of course!

well I just planted out a 'bunch' of these within the last month.  Well, two orders.  One order was just regular groundnut and the other was the Louisiana Univ. variety that's supposed to get really large.  There there 3 tubers in each order. I planted them in various parts of the yard.  Only two of the places are going to get direct sun.  The rest are going to be in different levels of shade.

I didn't plant any in my hugelbet.  It's in the chicken yard anyways and I'm guessing the chickens would just tear it up anyways.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5320
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
I also just received an order of Groundnuts from Oikos. I got one of the Densituberous and 3 of the Hudson.  They will be planted in a hugel bed.     


Idle dreamer

jenn Hatfield


Joined: Apr 12, 2009
Posts: 66
I got 3 types from Oikos and have them in several spots in the yard, one quite damp one.
Kevin Sturgill


Joined: Apr 28, 2011
Posts: 12
Location: KY Zone 6
What time of year (fall or spring) should groundnuts be planted?  I live in KY zone 6.


Path to Sustainable Living - Attempting to Live More Sustainably Through Frugality and Permaculture Principles
Marla Kacey


Joined: Jul 07, 2011
Posts: 37
Location: Wyoming Zone 4
It would be very interesting to hear how all the above mentioned trials went.  Did they grow?  In which light and soil conditions?  Were they as tasty as they sound?  Or were they a waste of time, space and money?

Thanks in advance for any further information.
Saybian Morgan
volunteer

Joined: Apr 22, 2011
Posts: 580
Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
    
    7
Edible landscapes on vancouver island sells it.
Just search for Apios everyone misspells americana
http://www.ediblelandscapes.ca/component/content/article/59-seed-list/149-seeds-teas-and-herbal-products
Guy De Pompignac


Joined: Nov 16, 2010
Posts: 187
Location: SW of France
I can have three times more proteins than potato

a good link about groundnut :

http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/458/


Follow our design (in french) on our 3 acres property in SW France.
Tyler Ludens
pollinator

Joined: Jun 25, 2010
Posts: 5320
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    
  20
As far as I know all of mine died.  I'm going to try again.
Larz Giles


Joined: Jan 17, 2012
Posts: 1

I started growing groundnuts last year on my land in Maine. I originally ordered tubers from sand mountain herbs in Alabama. Some of these I sprouted indoors on a window sill in early spring no problem without grow lights. I also ordered groundnut seeds (seeds not tubers) from a supplier in Burgaw NC. The plants from seeds are not at all as vigorous the first year and tend to be weak growths.

After I had a few groundnuts popping up and realizing what they looked like, I managed to find some growing in the wild. This was not easy, but I was apparently lucky. They don't grow just anywhere. Many of these I transplanted onto my land. They seem to transplant fine until they get too big which starts to happen around July I would say. When they are bigger, transplanting them seems to cause the vine to die back to nothing and whether the tuber is still alive is hard to tell, though I have seen a few come back. I would say they definitely need moist soil. If it is too dry, they will likely die off unless you water them constantly. They can grow pretty well in partial shade or sun as long as it's not too dry. They seem to like sandy or peat like soil that is maybe a little loose, but I have seen them grow in kind of clay like soil a bit. I don't think they will grow in swampy wet soil, but it seems like they can survive occasional flooding.

The place where I have found the most groundnuts seems to be on sandy banks of rivers. In fact I have found them growing like crazy in some places like that. Here in New England, I curiously seem to come across them on the side of an old farm road from time to time. A newer road that has been disturbed with newer construction and alot of invasive species seems to not usually have any. I never can tell where I will come across them, they are not super common, but I always am on the lookout for them.
Adrien Lapointe
steward

Joined: Feb 23, 2012
Posts: 2205
Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
    
  56
Are there any other sources for seeds in Canada? ediblelandscapes.ca does not exist anymore.


Permaculture Kingston
Paulo Bessa
pollinator

Joined: Jun 15, 2012
Posts: 330
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
    
    5
I have two groundnuts growing.

I ordered 2 packs of tubers from Oikos, of different varieties. One sprouted in February but when I tried to put outside the vine died in a minor frost.

Two vines have sprouted from other tubers in March, its now May, and they have grown wide, but they seem to dislike being indoors. They also seem to prefer constant watering but tolerate a bit when the soil becomes dry. Too much wet soil and the tubers can rot.

The tubers seem to have sprout better when they were cold treated in February, outdoors, in freezing weather. The tubers stood -10ºC (no snow cover) but a more severe freeze without mulch kills them.

I have moved the 2 of them, growing still in a container, to outdoors, and they tolerate chilly above freezing weather, but not cold winds. So i brought them again indoors.

Many other tubers did not sprout, remaining dormant.

I wonder if growing in containers would work well. Whether tubers will set. Ideally I would have 2 pots indoors, 2 pots to be set outdoors, and 2 more to transplant outdoors to the garden. However i only have 2 pots with groundnut growing at the moment...


Our projects:
in Portugal, sheltered terraces facing eastwards, high water table, uphill original forest of pines, oaks and chestnuts. 2000m2
in Iceland: converted flat lawn, compacted poor soil, cold, windy, humid climate, cold, short summer. 50m2
Adrien Lapointe
steward

Joined: Feb 23, 2012
Posts: 2205
Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
    
  56
Too bad they don't give the scientific name on their website. It seems like they could be apios americana.
Paulo Bessa
pollinator

Joined: Jun 15, 2012
Posts: 330
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
    
    5
Those that have grown groundnuts: any experience after planting them in containers or on soil? Any harvest? The ones that died, why they did so?

I have two small containers of groundnuts currently outdoors, the weather is cool but they are fine. I have 3 other containers but tubers are still dormant there. Apparently this is a common problem with groundnut, with some tubers awakening much earlier than others.

I had plenty of legumes indoors affected by spider mites, so I noticed that one of the groundnuts was getting them too, but moving them outdoors to the cool and moist spring weather, was much better than keeping them indoors. I think the plants are rather strong other than being sensitive to either excessive moisture or a lack of it, or are affected by spider mites.

I will now transplant carefully one of those containers to the soil. Either a raised bed in a sheltered spot or a small huegelkultur bed (but that one is less sheltered than that).

Any experience from others? Which soil they do prefer? Mines are in the container with a potting mix. Outside soil I have places with clay soil, and others with sandy soil. And also a wood nearby.

alex Keenan


Joined: Nov 08, 2012
Posts: 110
    
    2
I planted 4 tubers this spring and got 19 tubers this fall.
Andy Cook


Joined: Apr 04, 2011
Posts: 40
Location: Bangalore, India and Southeast Alaska
    
    1
Isn''t it generally 2-3 years from planting to harvest?
alex Keenan


Joined: Nov 08, 2012
Posts: 110
    
    2
Andy Cook wrote:Isn''t it generally 2-3 years from planting to harvest?


The seeds have to go through a heat period then a cool period before they sprout. That is why the 2 to 3 years.
I planted tubers or roots. Each root will produce a vine that will produce a root system. I planted four and I got one really great vine that had a six foot root with tubers along the root.
This is part of my experiment with a number of edible root crops.
Paulo Bessa
pollinator

Joined: Jun 15, 2012
Posts: 330
Location: Portugal (zone 9) and Iceland (zone 5)
    
    5
Andy Cook wrote:Isn''t it generally 2-3 years from planting to harvest?


I planted several, around 10 tubers in spring. Ordered them from Oikos Tree Crops.

First several died with freezing in mid spring. Then, only a few sprout. They took a few months to germinate! Many remained dormant.

I had some indoors, some outdoors. The ones indoors died of spider mites (the vine), so I transplanted them outdoors. The ones outdoors never thrived. Probably too chilly summer? (was the coldest summer since the sixties). I have about 5 of the original tubers still, some in containers, and some with some roots but no vines, and haven´t checked for any harvest to not disrupt the roots.

Seems to be a complicate plant to grow. However I saw a happy groundnut plant this summer growing on the UK.

Daniel McGinnis


Joined: Dec 26, 2013
Posts: 18
Location: Kansas City Kansas
Funny you brought up this plant i see one seller on eBay that is selling the seeds I want to grow this particular plant bad I will keep you updated this spring on any success and failures growing it in Kansas looks ultra nutritious and maybe free potato like tubers all season long
Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4432
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    4
still would like to try these..seems difficult so I'll watch for a good source and put them in when I can find some..I have wet areas with some shade that they should do well in
Ghislaine de Lessines


Joined: Jan 23, 2013
Posts: 57
Location: Vermont, annual average precipitation is 39.87 Inches
    
    2
It's funny, I had some of this growing over the bushes in front of my house a couple of years ago, not knowing what it was! I really don't like the smell of the flowers so when I replace the bushes in that bed, I'll be moving the ground nut farther from the house. I'm actually worried that I'll have trouble getting it all out of the bed! Could it be a biannual because I got no flowers on it this year.


Stoney Edge Project Thread
Julia Winter
volunteer

Joined: Aug 31, 2012
Posts: 716
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
    
  72
Has anybody been able to eat these tubers? Has anyone been able to grow them near the West Coast?


Ask me about food.
Delilah Gill


Joined: Dec 03, 2010
Posts: 35
Location: Southern Georgia
I've had them growing "wild" on the edge of a drainage ditch for a dirt road next to my property in south Georgia. They do favor growing in places that get flooded, then dry out.
Chip Montooth


Joined: Apr 13, 2014
Posts: 1
Location: Northern Nevada
I have had great success with them in a raised bed here in northern Nevada. They have taken over the bed pretty well - at least the below ground portion of it - so I would advise care: don't plant this somewhere where you don't want it to pretty much take over. That being said, it doesn't seem to bother my above ground plants in the same bed that much - tomatoes, peas, spinach, etc.

Now, I harvested a great amount of tubers just yesterday, and my question is now what? How do you cook/eat them? Anyone have any advice?
Olivia Helmer


Joined: Oct 02, 2012
Posts: 72
Location: west marin, bay area california
    
  12
I just got some from baker street seed company http://www.rareseeds.com/
i have a cold or flu or something though so I have to wait to plant them. I am probably going to plant them in 30 gallon fabric planters. I am growing potatoes that way this year too.
Mike Cantrell


Joined: May 17, 2013
Posts: 108
Location: Mid-Michigan
    
    4
Sam Thayer, my favorite wild foods author, wrote an article here about Apios:

http://www.wildflowers-and-weeds.com/The_Forager/hopniss.htm

He's got prep/recipe information toward the bottom.
Olivia Helmer


Joined: Oct 02, 2012
Posts: 72
Location: west marin, bay area california
    
  12
something dug up my tubers I planted them yesterday in a planter. I am pretty sick and planting them took most of my energy, I had to make posting soil since I was out of it and then put the big planter on my deck. this morning dirt was everyplace and the tubers where there but with bites taken from them. will they still grow if they have bites taken out of them? I probably will have to get more tubers when I am healthier and have energy to figure out a way to keep them from being dug up again. I am guessing whatever dug them up is the same thing that digs up ginger when I try growing that and digs up my daffodils. it doesn't bite into daffodils or ginger though and my potatoes are thriving so it leaves them alone. The only animal I have seen on my deck (where the apios and ginger both where) are raccoons. do raccoons like eating roots?
Julia Winter
volunteer

Joined: Aug 31, 2012
Posts: 716
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
    
  72
Sure, raccoons eat everything. Maybe if you fastened a piece of hardware cloth on top it would slow him down. A motion detector light might run him off, too.
 
 
subject: Ground nut: apios americana
 
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