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Mr. Smarty Plants - Need information about Pignut (Hoffmannseggia glauca).

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Monday - November 30, 2009

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Need information about Pignut (Hoffmannseggia glauca).
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I wanted to know a little about Pignut (also called Indian Rush-pea and Hog Potato); botanical name Hoffmannseggia glauca. Is it edible, and at what point does the plant produce a tuber (looks like a potato when you dig it up)?

ANSWER:

With a common name like Hog potato, you might expect it to be edible by something.

Hoffmannseggia glauca (Indian rushpea) is a perennial plant in the Fabaceae (pea family), and is found largely in arid environments from Texas to California and south into Mexico. It produces a bean-like fruit as well a tuber-like underground storage organ, both of which are utilized as food by wildlife. Since the uderground swellings are part of the root system, they are called root tubers.  The plant is a perennial and the "tubers" are used to store food. When growing conditions are favorable, the plant develops the "tubers"  to store food which it can use when growth conditions are not as favorable.

Several Native American tribes used the tuber as food, both cooked and raw, but I found nothing that indicated that they ate the seed pods.

This website form the Four Directions Institute lists the tribes and the plants that were utilized in the Colorado Culture.

This page from Native American Ethnobotany by Daniel Moerman describes how the tubers were prepared.

And finally, Matt Turner in his recently published Remarkable Plants of Texas  gives an interesting account of this little known plant (pp 229-231).


Hoffmannseggia glauca

 


 

 

 

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