Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - July 11, 2009

From: River Vale, NJ
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: What is a groundnut? from River Vale NJ
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I just read the book "Mayflower" which talks about the Massachusetts natives and, subsequently, the Pilgrims eating groundnuts; mentions the groundnuts going to seed in early summer. What are groundnuts? Can you provide pictures?

ANSWER:

A fascinating question. When we first researched "groundnut" we found it referred to as a peanut. From this CGIAR website, Groundnut - Arachis hypogaea, we learned that this plant originated between Southern Bolivia and Northern Argentina, from where it was spread to the New World by Spanish explorers. Since there were no Spanish explorers around Massachusetts in the early 1600's and also since peanuts don't like the Massachusetts climate, we searched further.

We found a website "The Mary Rowlandson Story", about a woman who was born in the early 1600's in England, and brought to the colonies while still a small child. She married and was living in a small settlement in Massachusetts, when on February 10, 1676, she and her three children, one of whom was killed, were captured by Indians. She was later freed and published a book about her experience. On that website, we found  The Ground Nut: Apios americana or Apios tuberosa. 

Turns out Apios americana (groundnut) is, indeed, native not only to North America but to many of the states in North America. We can provide you with information and pictures from our Native Plant Database and Native Plant Image Gallery.  When you follow the plant link for the groundnut to our webpage on it in the Plant Database, you can go to the bottom of the page and use the Google link to more information on the plant.

Pictures

 

From the Image Gallery

More Edible Plants Questions

Use of Ilex sp. by Seminole Indians to make black drink.
August 03, 2009 - Ilex myrtifolia: can the leaves be used as tea? Seminole indians made a black drink reputed to be made of holly leaves.
view the full question and answer

Plants to prevent erosion on slope in Texas
June 19, 2010 - We have an erosion problem developing on the low side of a gently sloping hill. We are in clay soil at the base of the hill with oaks and pines. We have a right of way that is without trees forty fee...
view the full question and answer

Non-fruiting Willamette raspberry plant in Wateford CA
May 23, 2013 - I have a 2 year old Willamette Raspberry plant that has many blooms, bees, great growing conditions, very healthy but has never set one fruit. I know about pruning. Any suggestions? It has been bloomi...
view the full question and answer

Native edible plants
September 24, 2005 - Hello, I would like some resources for identifying native edible plants in Central Oregon. Good clear images will be very helpful in links or books. We do alot of hiking and would like to...
view the full question and answer

Is cenizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) edible?
December 21, 2012 - I found a post here about cenizo leaves being used for tea, but I'm wondering if the leaves of the cenizo are edible? I have found many recipes for 'brown butter sage' leaves (sauteed often with on...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.