Here are two plants in bloom right now whose common name begin with “ground.” First, the ground nut (Apios americana)

Ground Nut (Apios americana)

Ground Nut (Apios americana)

This is a plant I searched for back when that’s how I tried to find edible wild plants. I would identify the plant from a book, and then go out looking for it. I never found it that way. Later, I switched to identifying what I had found, and this turned up in the backyard at the edge of the woods. It has an edible tuber, and I have eaten them on a few occasions. This is the only stand of ground nut that I know of, so I have been going easy on them. Over the past five years, they have spread by an order of magnitude, and I think that in a couple of years, I should be able to harvest them less conservatively.

The second “ground” plant is the ground bean:

Ground Bean (Amphicarpaea bracteata)

Ground Bean (Amphicarpaea bracteata)

The “amphicarpaea” portion of its binomial name means something like “two kinds of flowers”. These are the open flowers. The other type are closed, which may be above ground, or below ground. The closed flowers self-pollinate.

A lot of source call these “hog peanuts”, but I don’t call them that any more, as Samuel Thayer (an edible wild plant author) says it’s a racial slur against Native Americans. They used this plant as a food source, and the Europeans refused to eat them, insisting they were only fit for hogs. And by extension, by Native Americans. They were missing out on a good thing, as these beans are quite good. However, they are difficult to collect. The Native Americans let small rodents collect them on their behalf. The critters would squirrel them away in underground storage holes, and when the people found these caches, they would take half, leaving the rest for the hard-working rodents.

I have not had the fortune of finding a rodent cache of these, so the only way I can get them is by digging. The edible “beans” come from the underground flowers, and are therefore located underground. They are worth the effort though.

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Ground nut (Apios americana)

Ground nut (Apios americana)


This is ground nut. It’s a plant I went looking for before I had ever found one because it has an edible root. That was back in the days when I would try to find what I had identified rather than trying to identify what I had found. I didn’t find this one when I was looking for it, but rather found it when I had decided to identify everything growing on my property.

The tubers were a staple among the Native Americans, and I did eat a few a couple of years after I found these. But I didn’t not eat a full serving because there were not very many here. I let them grow, and now they are far more abundant. I think I will dig some up next month.

The other day I noticed that I had a lot more Groundnut (Apios americana) out by the swing set than I had originally thought. I didn’t want to dig up my only patch, but it looked to me like there were three plants out there. I figured that reducing that to two wouldn’t be a tragedy, so today after supper I went out and carefully dug one up.

Groundnut (Apios americana)

Groundnut (Apios americana)


In doing so, I broke into an ant nest. The ants scurried around to move the eggs. I expect they’ll be OK though. By the time I finished my digging, all the eggs had been moved.
The shot above shows some of the leaves, the vine and one tuber. The ant nest is just under the vine on the left, and that’s the tuber at the bottom center.

The tubers are supposed to grow all along a long string of roots, kind of like Christmas lights. I followed the root until it resurfaced a few feet away, and found four tubers. I figured that was enough for a taste, though not a meal, but since I had just had supper, all I really wanted was a taste.

Here is the vine with the four tubers and some leaves laid out on my deck.

Groundnut (Apios americana)

Groundnut (Apios americana)


As you can see, I need to repaint the deck. But let’s not worry about that, OK?

I cut the tubers from the root and brought them in the house.

Four tubers in hand is worth 16 in the bush

Four tubers in hand is worth 16 in the bush

Peterson says they should be washed, peeled, and then boiled for 20 minutes. So I washed them, peeled them, and boiled them for 20 minutes. Here is the finished product:

One mouthful

One mouthful


I ate them slowly from smallest to largest. I thought they were pretty decent! The were very potato-like with just a hint of turnip. I think I could eat a pile of them with no problem if only I could find enough to make a pile.

Cinquefoil (Potentilla, spp)

Cinquefoil (Potentilla, spp)


The Cinquefoil (Potentilla, spp) has been blooming for a while, but I don’t think I’ve posted it yet. I haven’t taken the time to drill down to the species level for an id on this one either. There are several members of the Potentilla genus growing around here. Last year I had them sorted out, but that knowledge didn’t survive the winter! Now I’ll have to figure it out all over again.

Speedwell (Veronica spp)

Speedwell (Veronica spp)


This is another that I went actively looking for today. I almost missed it too, because these flowers are only about an eighth of an inch across. I only saw two specimens, but they were growing where I remember seeing them last year. I don’t know why anyone would call it “speedwell” when its Latin name is so nice – Veronica. It is purported to have medicinal qualities, so I guess that’s where the common name comes from. This is another plant that I was too lazy to id down to the species level today. There are only a couple species of Veronica on my property, so it wouldn’t be that hard to do.

Green blueberries

Green blueberries


Here are some unripe blueberries growing at the edge of my yard. Some plants are still sporting flowers, but these have progressed well beyond that now. I might be able to get a quart of berries this summer, but we’ll see. Not bad for wild berries.

Groundnut (Apios americana)

Groundnut (Apios americana)


This is one I was not expecting to see again, at least not here. I discovered this groundnut (Apios americana) a couple of years ago, and then accidentally hit it with the mower last summer when I was taking out the brambles around the swing set. It didn’t come back from that until now. It has an edible root (thus the name groundnut) that I’ve been wanting to try, but since I’ve only got one or two plants growing here, I’m not about to uproot it. Hopefully it can establish itself to the point of nibble-ability. Might take a couple more years, but I can be patient. All I have to do is not mow it down.