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

Can bastard cabbage be eaten from Austin
May 02, 2013 - On a local cooking show they were talking about cooking local foods and mentioned bastard cabbage but never showed how to cook it or if it was in fact edible. Would be a way to help get rid of it if ...
view the full question and answer

Fiber and dye plants at the Wildflower Center from Round Rock TX
May 24, 2012 - When I visited the Wildflower Center recently I noticed a garden labeled as containing fiber and dye plants, but the individual plants and their uses were not all labeled. I would be very interested ...
view the full question and answer

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

Gardening books for Austin and Central Texas
June 09, 2008 - Hi, I'm looking for a book for my wife. She is a beginning gardener here in Austin. Do you know of an ideal book or two that covers vegetable gardening and gardening in general in Austin/Central Tex...
view the full question and answer

Blueberry and huckleberry plants for Washington state
April 20, 2010 - Could you give me the names of which blueberry plants and huckleberry bushes that grow the best in Walla Walla, Washington and where and how to plant and space and care for them?? Thanks so much.
view the full question and answer

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