Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wildflower Wednesday January 2014: Apios americana

On the fourth Wednesday of each month I join Gail at Clay and Limestone and other bloggers for Wildflower Wednesday to celebrate flowering native plants in my garden.  January's choice is Apios americana.

When I first noticed this little plant flowering near my fence in the back yard I thought it was an especially pretty native plant so I identified it as Apios americana commonly known as Groundnut or Wild potato.  



Apios americana is a perennial and grows throughout its native North America.  While it is considered a weed and often eradicated in the U.S., the groundnut tuber is cultivated for medicinal uses in Japan.  Native Americans used it as a source of food which they also shared with the Pilgrims during their first years in Massachusetts.

From the Native Plant Database:

The tubers can be used in soups and stews or fried like potatoes; the cooked seeds can also be eaten. The flowers are sufficiently beautiful to warrant cultivation, but the plant tends to take over. The generic name, from Greek for pear, alludes to the shape of the tubers.

Apios americana is a larval host and nectar source for Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus).  



If Groundnut can grow a tuber in our rocky clay soil it has earned a place right here next to the fence where I found it.  Apios americana may be a weed to some but not to me and when a native plant this pretty "takes over" I call it groundcover.

For more on wildflowers in the garden visit Gail at Clay and Limestone.

7 comments:

  1. It looks pretty, would you dare to give the tubers a taste? How did the groundnut end up in your garden, did it self-seed? Sometimes we can get amazing things for free like that, I have a Japanese anemone brought by the wind or a bird and a few years ago, a rowan started to grow between two of my paving slabs. I have carefully lifted it and the sapling is now growing in a pot and is about 8” tall. It will take some years to become a tree but…it will get there eventually!

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    1. I am pretty adventurous when it comes to trying new things so I would except there's only one so far and I'd like to keep it going so will wait until the plant spreads.

      The return of native plants to the yard is a special treat.

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  2. How fun! It definitely is pretty, and it looks nice twining around the wire. Sometimes I think it would be fun to see what this country looked like with all the natives growing where they wanted to before our ancestors got here. For example, how would this plant have grown amonst other native plants? It must have looked wonderful!

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    1. There are a few relatively untouched spots near my house and I walk them on a regular basis to study the context of the native plants growing there.

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  3. My wildflower Wednesday this week would have to be tons of snow. When will this end and the cold makes it even nastier! I look forward to a flower some Wednesday! JC

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    1. We are right there with you on this cold winter though it is not nearly as cold in San Antonio as Wisconsin.

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