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Groundnut (Apios americana)
I dug some ground-nuts in the railroad bank with my hands this afternoon, the vine being now dead. They were nearly as large as hen's eggs, six inches or a foot beneath the surface, on the end of a root or strung along on it. I had them roasted and boiled at supper time. The skin came readily off like a potato. Roasted, they have an agreeable taste very much like a potato, though somewhat fibrous in texture. With my eyes shut, I should not know but I was eating a rather soggy potato. Boiled, they were unexpectedly quite dry, and though in this instance a little strong, had a more nutty flavor. With a little salt, a hungry man would make a very palatable meal on them. It would not be easy to find them, especially now that the vines are dead, unless you knew beforehand where they grew.
- Henry David Thoreau, October, 1852
Groundnut is distributed through the great prairie from Quebec to Minnesota, North Dakota, south to north central Colorado, Florida, and Texas. The vines grow in wet meadows, low thickets, banks of streams and ponds, sloughs, moist prairie ravines, and moist soil in woodlands.
Plant tubers two to three inches deep in the early spring. After shoots establishment, mulch to stop competition from weeds and grass. Provide the young shoots with a traverse or other objectives upon which to climb. After one year of growth, several one inch-thick tubers can be harvested from each plant.