Apios americana

From Coastal Plain Plants Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Apios americana
Apios americana AFP.jpg
Photo by the Atlas of Florida Plants Database
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicots
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Apios
Species: A. americana
Binomial name
Apios americana
Natural range of Apios americana from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common Names: common groundnut;[1] groundnut;[2][3] wild potato; Indian potato;[3]

Taxonomic Notes

Varieties: A. americana var. americana; A. americana var. turrigera[1]
Synonym: Glycine apios[1][2]


A. americana is a dioeceious perennial that grows as a forb/herb or a vine.[2] As a vine, it can reach 1-6 m in length[4] and produces maroon or reddish-brown pea-like flowers in compact racemes arising from leaf axils. Leaves are green and alternate.[3]


This species occurs from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Quebec, westward to Minnesota and South Dakota, southward to southern Florida and Texas.[1] The plant can also be found cultivated in Europe.[5]



A. americana occurs in marshes (tidal and non-tidal), wet thickets, streambanks, and bottomland forests.[1] It has been reported as common in a lakeshore cypress swamp on the east side of Lake Arbuckle, Polk County, FL.[6] In Washington D.C. marshes, relative cover of vegetation in reference sites was 1.60% and the relative density of seedlings emerging from seed bank samples was 1.12%.[7]


In the southeastern and mid-Atlantic United States, flowering occurs from June through August and fruiting from July though September.[1] On the Florida panhandle, A. americana has been observed flowering in April and June through September, with a peak inflorescence between August and September.[8] Flowering in large numbers during the winter month of January has been reported in the central peninsular Florida Polk County.[6]

Fire ecology

In southern Illinois brown shale barrens, Apios americana was absent in preburn sampling but present postburn, suggesting the species may require, or at least do well, in burned habitats.[9] A different study in Michigan white pine/red pine stands showed the mean percent coverage was greatest when burned once (1.62%) over a five year period (1991-1995). Biennial burn frequencies had a mean percent coverage of 1.09% and unburned areas covered 0.29%.[10]


The only legitimate pollinator known for A. americana are bees of the family Megachilidae.[5]

Use by animals

The cord-like rootstalk contains edible tubers that have been eaten historically by Indians and the Pilgrims in soups, stews, or fried like potatoes. Cooked seeds can also be consumed by humans.[3]

Diseases and parasites

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, cucumber mosaic virus and Desmodium yellow mottle virus are reported to be causal agents of diseases in A. americana.[11]

Conservation and Management

Cultivation and restoration

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Weakley AS (2015) Flora of the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Herbarium.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 USDA NRCS (2016) The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 16 February 2018). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Plant database: Apios americana. (16 February 2018) Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. URL: https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=APAM
  4. Reynolds BD, Blackmon WJ, Wickremesinhe E, Wells MH, Constantin RJ (1988) Domestication of Apios americana. Janick J, Simon JE (eds.) In Advances in new crops: Proceedings of the first national symposium 'New crops: research, development, economics'. Indianapolis, Indiana. 23-26 October 1988.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Bruneau A, Anderson GJ (1994) To bee or not to bee?: The pollination biology of Apios americana (Leguminosae). Plant Systematics and Evolution 192:147-149.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Observation by Edwin Bridges at the east side of Lake Arbuckle, Polk County, FL, January 8, 2016, posted to Florida Flora and Ecosystematics Facebook Group January 9, 2016.
  7. Baldwin AH, Derico EF (1999) The seed bank of a restored tidal freshwater marsh in Washington, DC. Urban Ecosystems 3:5-20.
  8. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. www.gilnelson.com/PanFlora/ Accessed: 16 FEB 2018
  9. Heikens AL, West KA, Robertson PA (1994) Short-term response of chert and shale barrens vegetation to fire in southwestern Illinois. Castanea 59(3):274-285.
  10. Neumann DD, Dickmann DI (2001) Surface burning in a mature stand of Pinus resinosa and Pinus strobus in Michigan: Effects on understory vegetation. International Journal of Wildland Fire 10:91-101.
  11. Valverde RA, Provvidenti R, Clark CA (1990) Cucumber mosaic virus and Desmodium yellow mottle virus infections in wild groundnut (Apios americana). Plant Disease 74:151-153.