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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.

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

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Tuesday - March 01, 2011

From: Bremen, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Vines
Title: Vine with edible nut in Chattooga County, Georgia
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

From an email to this Master Gardener- The lady said when she was young her grandmother had a vine that grew along ground that produced small edible nut. As kids they called them chew-chews. Any idea what it could have been. Maybe something in the pea family. This was in Chattooga County area.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants wasn't able to find any native Georgia vine called chew-chews (or even choo-choos).  One of our Mr. Smarty Plants (a staff botanist) grew up in Georgia, and he hasn't ever heard of these either.

I searched for native vines that occur in Georgia by going to our Native Plant Database and doing a COMBINATION SEARCH choosing 'Georgia' from Select State or Province and 'Vine' from Habit (general appearance).  This search gives a list of 81 vines native to Georgia.  Looking through these I found two that showed at least some possibilities for being the chew-chews.

The most likely one is Amphicarpaea bracteata (American hogpeanut).  Here is more information from Plants for a Future (which rates the seeds as edible and delicious raw) and Apios Institute.

Another possibility is Apios americana (Groundnut)The tubers, which are walnut-sized, can be eaten raw or cooked.  The seeds are generally cooked. Here is more information from University of Massachusetts Amherst and Plants for a Future.

We at Mr. Smarty Plants would be very interested if the lady who asked you the question recognizes either of these as the plant she remembers as chew-chews.

Here are photos from our Image gallery and the sites above also have photos:

 

From the Image Gallery


American hogpeanut
Amphicarpaea bracteata

Groundnut
Apios americana

Groundnut
Apios americana

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