En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

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

List of plants native to the Abilene, Texas area
September 15, 2011 - Am looking for direction to a complete list of plants native to the Abilene, Taylor County, Texas area (trees, shrubs, grasses, cacti and other plants that grew here before cultivation, eradication or...
view the full question and answer

Fruiting times of native trees and shrubs in the Pacific Norhwest
December 30, 2013 - I am looking for information on fruiting/seeds/nuts times of native trees and shrubs in the Pacific Northwest. Obviously they fruit after they bloom but all I can find is very general information such...
view the full question and answer

Wild plums for jelly from Conroe TX
December 18, 2012 - Do wild plum trees grow in my area? I want to get some next summer to make plum jelly.
view the full question and answer

Plant identification in Georgia
September 14, 2011 - I saw the same question that I was going to ask about the plant that folds its leaves at dusk, with sparse branches, rapid growth, small yellow flowers and long (whisker-like, but do not appear to be ...
view the full question and answer

Getting blueberries to grow in Atascosa County, Texas
January 20, 2010 - I'm trying to get blueberries started in my garden. I mulch constantly and have tons of success with almost every thing. But last year my blueberries were new plants and after harvesting a few berrie...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center