Herb: Ground Nut

Latin name: Apios americana

Synonyms: Apios tuberosa

Family: Leguminosae

Medicinal use of Ground Nut:

The tubers were used in folk remedies for that cancerous condition known as "Proud Flesh" in New England. Nuts were boiled and made into a plaster, "For to eat out the proud flesh they (the Indians) take a kind of earth nut boyled and stamped".

Description of the plant:


120 cm
(4 feet)

June to


Habitat of the herb:

Usually found in low damp bottomland or riparian woods and thickets, it is also often found round ancient Indian campsites.

Edible parts of Ground Nut:

Tuber - raw or cooked. A delicious flavour somewhat like roasted sweet potatoes, it always receives very high marks in taste trials with us. The tuber can also be dried and ground into a powder then used as a thickening in soups etc or can be added to cereal flours when making bread. Tubers contain 17% crude protein, this is more than 3 times that found in potatoes. The tubers can be harvested in their first year but they take 2 - 3 years to become a sizeable crop. They can be harvested at any time of the year but are at their best in the autumn. The tubers can also be harvested in the autumn and will store until at least the spring. Yields of 2.3 kilos of tubers per plant have been achieved. Seed - cooked. Rather small and not produced very freely, they are used like peas and beans. A good source of protein, they can be ground into a powder and added to cereals when making bread etc. Young seedpods.

Other uses of the herb:

There is one report that the plant contains a latex which could be used in the production of rubber.

Propagation of Ground Nut:

Seed - pre-soak for 3 hours in tepid water and sow February/March in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 15C. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out in late spring or early summer. Division can be carried out at almost any time of the year, though spring is probably the best time. Simply dig up the roots, harvest the tubers and replant them where you want the plants to grow. It is also possible to harvest the tuber in winter, store them in a cool fairly dry but frost-free place over the winter and then plant them out in the spring. The tubers lose moisture rapidly once they have been harvested, so make sure that you store them in a damp medium such as leafmold.

Cultivation of the herb:

Usually found in low damp bottomland or riparian woods and thickets, it is also often found round ancient Indian campsites.

Known hazards of Apios americana:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.