LSU Groundnut – Apios americana
Ranging from Southern Canada to Florida, the Groundnut is an amazing native plant. All parts of this perennial vine are edible – shoot, flowers, seeds, and especially the tubers! The tubers, aka Groundnuts, are actually swellings that form along a thin rhizome very much like a string of beads and can grow up to the size of a large potato. When mature, the tubers are delicious with a sweet, nutty flavor and fine texture. Groundnuts are commonly equated with the potato for culinary purposes. When compared nutritional to the potato, Groundnuts have 3 times the protein content (17% protein), 10 times as much calcium, and twice the amount of iron. The Groundnut also loves to grow under other plants and around other root systems making it a great understory, underground permaculture plant. Plus because it is a legume, it’s also a soil nitrogen fixer! The LSU Groundnut strain was developed by the folks at Louisana State University led by Bill Blackmon. From 1984-1996, they developed the Apios americana into a plant with larger tubers and more tubers per rhizome (up to 50 per plant!). Vines are aggressive and can easily grow to 10 ft. Allow rhizomes to grow at least 2 years before harvesting to ensure decent size tubers. Harvest after frost for best flavor and store in a cool, damp place. Zones 3-9.