En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - July 11, 2009

From: River Vale, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: What is a groundnut? from River Vale NJ
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I just read the book "Mayflower" which talks about the Massachusetts natives and, subsequently, the Pilgrims eating groundnuts; mentions the groundnuts going to seed in early summer. What are groundnuts? Can you provide pictures?


A fascinating question. When we first researched "groundnut" we found it referred to as a peanut. From this CGIAR website, Groundnut - Arachis hypogaea, we learned that this plant originated between Southern Bolivia and Northern Argentina, from where it was spread to the New World by Spanish explorers. Since there were no Spanish explorers around Massachusetts in the early 1600's and also since peanuts don't like the Massachusetts climate, we searched further.

We found a website "The Mary Rowlandson Story", about a woman who was born in the early 1600's in England, and brought to the colonies while still a small child. She married and was living in a small settlement in Massachusetts, when on February 10, 1676, she and her three children, one of whom was killed, were captured by Indians. She was later freed and published a book about her experience. On that website, we found  The Ground Nut: Apios americana or Apios tuberosa. 

Turns out Apios americana (groundnut) is, indeed, native not only to North America but to many of the states in North America. We can provide you with information and pictures from our Native Plant Database and Native Plant Image Gallery.  When you follow the plant link for the groundnut to our webpage on it in the Plant Database, you can go to the bottom of the page and use the Google link to more information on the plant.



From the Image Gallery

More Edible Plants Questions

Edibility of Washington Hawthorn berries from Williamsport PA
February 22, 2014 - Please tell me if Washington Hawthorn berries and leaves are edible and if so, how to prepare them. Thank you!
view the full question and answer

Texas plants useful to early settlers
June 05, 2012 - I'm working on some interpretation for a prairie heritage trail in SE TX (near Houston). I'd like to know where I can find some good information on plant remedies which might have been used by early...
view the full question and answer

Pruning non-native peach in Austin, TX.
June 18, 2015 - I planted two five gallon Texas Star peach trees last February but didn't have the nerve to prune them back to knee height. After having been convinced that this is a good thing to do, I'd like to k...
view the full question and answer

Red berries growing along county road in Caldwell County, Texas
September 06, 2014 - Hello, first I would like to thank you for your time. I thank it's great that you guys and girls answer questions (I'm sure y'all are busy). That being said I will get to the question. On the sides...
view the full question and answer

Lindheimer's Muhly Grass Seeds for Human Use?
July 07, 2016 - Does anyone know if Lindheimer's Muhly seeds were ever used as human food source?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center