Ground Nut (Apios Tuberosa or Apios Americana) Home Page.
to the Mary Rowlandson Home
Starting A Ground Nut Garden
Books, Ground Nut Pamphlets,
Ground Nut Plants, Ground Nut Note Cards, etc.
What is a Ground Nut?
It's NOT a peanut.
The Ground Nut, first of all, is a
climbing vine, a member of the pea family and distantly related to the
soybean. It gets its name from the bulb-like tubers that grow on it's
roots. These can be as small as a Pine Nut to as large as an avacado. These are the so-called
Ground Nuts. They were a major food source for the early Native
Americans and served essentially as their potato. Like the
potatoes we know today they have a brown skin and, once peeled, they are white and firm inside.
They can be eaten raw but are best cooked, either by boiling or
roasting. They have a very mild flavor and can be a nutritious addition to soups
and stews. According to the USDA they contain about three
times the protein of the potatoes in common use today. The Native
Americans taught the early colonists
how to utilize the Ground Nut as a food source and they were
part of the first Thanksgiving. The early settlers in Western
Massachusetts considered the
Ground Nut so important a food source that one town passed a law
Americans from digging them on lands owned by the colonists. In Eastern Long Island
they were so popular that the name of much of that area is named after Sagapon, the Shinnecock (the indiginous Eastern
Long Island Native American tribe) name
for the Ground Nut plant.
The plant is a climbing vine that
develops pinkish-lavender and maroon flowers which form
in clusters that appear in mid to late August. It can also
just below the flowers and these pods are also edible. These "pea pods"
can be dried
to produce seeds. Most Ground Nut plants though, in areas approximately
north of New York City are propagated via their root systems and the
Ground Nut tubers. Each tuber, even very small ones,
will produce a new plant. The maturity of a plant can be roughly
determined by the number of leaves on a leaflet. Young first year
plants will have 3-5 leaves on a stem. Very mature plants may have up
to nine leaves on a stem. The mature, well established plants will also
have much thicker vines and larger leaves. Ground Nut leaves will open
up to catch
the sun and fold up if there is too much sun. At evening time when
sunlight is waning the leaves will hang down to catch all the light
available. Also during a heavy rain the
leaves will hang down to offer less resistance. The plant is
also very photo-tropic, and when newly sprouted it will use
feature to search it's immediate
area to find something to climb on such as a branch of another plant or
a pole it can wind around in order to climb and get more sun exposure.
The Ground Nut is an aboriginal plant to the United States and
it's remnants have been found in archaeological digs of Native American
campsites in southern New England that go back 9,000 years. It's
habitat ranges from northern New England to Florida and even Texas,
and from the east coast to across the Mississippi. It does not seem to
native to the west coast of the US but we now have many customers there who are growing them with great success..
If you do a search on the Internet
for the Ground Nut you will find many references that are actually
talking about the peanut which apparently is also known as a Ground Nut
much of the world. This is an entirely different plant and not at all
related to the apios americana/tuberosa. The Ground Nut was originally
due to it's aboriginal American origin. Then other writers began using
the name apios tuberosa and this name became prevalent for a long time
until about twenty years ago. Now the name apios americana has
re-emerged and this is now the most common modern appellation.
I first encountered the existence of the
in Mary Rowlandson's captivity narrative but she doesn't explain what
she means by a Ground Nut. She says the Indians gave her some Ground
Nuts to eat but what did that mean? Were they nuts they
found on the ground? Acorns? Ground up nuts? It was a few years before
discovered, in another old book, that it was a plant and the book
latin name as apios tuberosa so I could look it up. As it turns out,
the plant has it's
own fascinating history apart from Mary Rowlandson. You can read about
that in either my book "The Mary Rowlandson Story", which includes her
captivity narrative, or in a separate pamphlet completely devoted to
Ground Nut. The book or pamphlet cover essentially everything you need
to know about the Ground Nut:
where to find them in the wild, how and when to harvest them, how to
and how to grow them.
If you like you can even contact me to
some Ground Nuts which you can grow. This way you can create
your own Ground Nut
garden without having to go out in the woods and risk getting poison
ivy. This is a real possibility since Ground Nuts and poison ivy tend
to grow together in the same area. In the early spring before the
Ground Nut tubers begin to sprout
is generally considered the best time to harvest them for a spring
planting. But use heavy gloves, don't dig with your bare hands.
poison ivy roots are reported to be a
thousand times more powerful than the leaves and if you come in contact
with them you can end up in the emergency room with a systemic poisen
ivy reaction. This actually happened
to my artist-illustrator Terrie, but that's another story. Her
illustration of the Ground Nut plant is now part of a
exhibit at the Montauk Point Lighthouse Museum at the very eastern tip
of Long Island, New York.
We are now taking orders for
Ground Nut bulbs and plants. Each year the demand has greatly
increased. The number we have for sale is limited. So it's
reserve yours as soon as possible. Tubers (the bulbs that are otherwise
known as the ground nuts) will be shipped starting in April or
whenever the spring weather permits. At some point we will switch over
from selling bulbs to selling young plants. Any extra bulbs we have
left after our initial orders are filled are planted in starter pots.
There is a brief delay until they sprout and then we can resume sales.
At this point we will be shipping live plants. Same price, same deal,
purchase two or more and get free shipping. By the following fall each
plant should produce about 10 new
tubers depending on how it develops over the course of it's growing
season. For food purposes, it is best to allow the plant to
mature for at least three years to develop tubers large enough for
cooking. It is also very strongly advised to grow your Ground Nuts in
an above ground container garden. This is the only practical way to
grow Ground Nuts. This method also has the benefit of effectively
increasing your growing season by at least a month or more which means
more and larger Ground Nuts to eat. It's also much much easier to work
on your raised bed container garden, no stooping, bending or crawling
around on the ground. Also, your plants will be protected from hungry
critters and problem insects.
planting purposes, we harvest our bulbs/tubers in the early spring as
soon as the ground
can be worked, for eating purposes the Ground Nuts are harvested in the
the first frost has killed off the plant above the ground. For further
information on all aspects of growing Ground Nuts successfully we
recommend our newly revised pamphlet. You can also email us your
questions at email@example.com.
I believe we are the only supplier to also provide our customers with
year round "Nutty" Tech Support on all aspects of growing Ground Nuts.
Go to the Mary Rowlandson Home
Books, Ground Nut Pamphlets,
Ground Nut Bulbs/Plants, Ground Nut Note Cards, etc.