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Amphicarpaea bracteata (L.) Fernald


American hogpeanut, ground bean

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderFabalesLegumes (pea and bean families)
FamilyFabaceaeLegume family (peas and beans)
GenusAmphicarpaeaGreek for two-seeded, referring to two types of seeds
SpeciesbracteataBearing bracts (modified leaves)

About plant names...

American hogpeanut is native to eastern North America. It prefers woodlands, thickets, low wooded areas along streams, and moist slopes.

Plants: Plants look like low-lying mats of foliage, but at close quarters they are actually thin-stemmed vines 24-96" (60-243 cm) long. Small tendrils hang onto nearby plants. Stems are less than ¹/₃₂" (1 mm) thick, light green to reddish green, and covered with thin flattened (appressed) hairs (var. bracteata) or spreading hairs (var. comosa).

Leaves: Leaves are alternate, in groups of three delicate leaflets, along twining stems. The central leaflet, called the terminal leaflet, is up to 2½" (6.3 cm) long (var. bracteata) or up to 4" (10 cm) long (var. comosa) and about the same width. Leaflets are ovate to ovate-rhombic, with sharp tips. The other two leaflets tend to be a bit smaller. Leaflets are mostly hairless on top, and usually hairier and lighter in color below.

Flowers: Pink to white to pale lavender, ½-¾" (1.3-1.9 cm) long. Open flowers are cross-pollinated, while closed flowers are self-pollinating. Flowers are tubular in shape, with an upright-facing banner, 2 side wings, and a keel. The edges of the banners are often folded backward. Closed flowers may occur above or below ground. Open flowers occur in compact clusters of 2-15 along the vine. They appear from August to September.

Fruits: Open flowers form flat pods, ½-1½" (1.5-4 cm) long, pointed at both ends, containing 1-4 seeds. When mature, the dried pods burst to disperse the seeds. Closed flowers produce a pod containing a single seed.

Edibility: Below-ground pear-shaped seeds are “sweet and delicious,” eaten raw or cooked, tasting like shelled garden beans. Seeds from above-ground seed pods are said by some sources to be inedible, and by others to be edible after cooking.

Online References:

Amphicarpaea bracteata at Illinois Wildflowers

Amphicarpaea bracteata on Wikipedia

Amphicarpaea bracteata on gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org

Amphicarpaea bracteata on Plants for a Future

Amphicarpaea bracteata at Minnesota Wildflowers


Clemants, Steven; Gracie, Carol, Wildflowers in the Field and Forest, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 101

Amphicarpaea bracteata description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Amphicarpaea bracteata (American hogpeanut, ground bean)

9/16/2016 · Sieur de Monts Botanical Gardens, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine

Range: Zones 4-9:

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