American Groundnut

Botanical Name: Apios americana

Bloom: Late summer

Height: Herbaceous twining vine, can climb to several feet in a summer

Conditions: Moist woodland edges and stream banks. Can spread widely in moist, loose soils.

Wildlife benefits: “Leaf-cutting bees are considered the most important cross-pollinators of the flowers.” Illinois Wildflowers

Remarks: An important food source for First Nations people. The round tubers, strung along the rhizomes like beads, are tasty roasted. It takes three years for a plant to be large enough to produce a good crop of tubers. Seeds are also edible, but the plants do not produce seeds every year this far north, and some plants are triploid and never produce seeds. The distribution of the the plant in the northern part of its range has probably more to do with First Nations cultivation of the tubers than to seed dispersal. More information on eating American Groundnuts.