Apios americana

groundnut, potatobean, wild potato, indian potato, potato bean


Leaf Arrangement


Leaf Attachment


Leaf Type

compound, pinnate

Growth Form

forb, vine

Flower Color

pink, purple, red, white

Flower Month

June - August

Height (meters)

0.9 - 3.0

Milky Sap








Growing Season

Warm season

Wetland Class


Wetland Coefficient of Conservatism


Prairie Coefficient of Conservatism


Field Characters

A twining, herbaceous vine with maroon flowers and alternate compound leaves each having 5-7 leaflets. Leaflets 5-7, ovate or ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, ca. 30-60 mm long.

Cultural Information

Groundnut has been grown as a food crop and as an ornamental. It is too aggressive for flower beds in south Louisiana, but makes a beautiful climber when grown in pots. It can be grown from seed but seeds often do not develop.

Animal Use

Charles Robertson, 1928: (Bees suck nectar or collect pollen; observations are from Robertson) Bees (long-tongued) including Megachile brevis brevis and Megachile mendica.

Natural History

While Apios is now found primarily in riparian woodlands and gallery forests bisecting the coastal prairie it has also been found on prairie remnants. It is most common in moist meadows, low thickets, banks of streams, and moist woodlands. It occurs throughout the eastern United States. Apios is Greek for "pear," probably referring to the edible tubers. Kindscher reports its use by Native Americans in mid-western prairies (1987). The tubers can be eaten raw or cooked any time of year, but are best from late fall to early spring. The seeds can be eaten during the summer, cooked like peas (Chase 1965). Bill Blackmon of Louisiana State University has been working on developing Apios for cultivation. Chase reports once being poisoned by the tubers of Apois tuberosa that were harvested after a frost.


Bottomland woods and thickets.

Plant Uses

The tubers are used as food.similar to potatoes.