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
1 rating

Monday - November 30, 2009

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


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)?


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





More Edible Plants Questions

Are wild sweet peas edible?
August 05, 2010 - Are wild sweet peas edible? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Effects of Hedysarum mackenzii from Pflugerville TX
May 08, 2013 - What are the effects of Hedysarum mackenzii?
view the full question and answer

Is horseherb (Calyptocarpus vialis) edible?
April 09, 2008 - Hello, I find horse-herb everywhere. Is it edible, too? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Eliminating skunk cabbage in Troy, NY
May 19, 2009 - My yard is overgrown with skunk cabbage. My question is how do I get rid of it?
view the full question and answer

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

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