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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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