The Backyard Larder

A place to explore and buy perennial vegetables and other food plants.

Hopniss, American Groundnut Tubers (2)


Hopniss (Apios americana), or American groundnut, is a hardy, perennial, nitrogen-fixing, climbing legume (to 120-150cm) which produces delicious tubers which taste like nutty potatoes. The tubers are produced in a line along the roots like a necklace. Hopniss produces beautiful and fragrant flowers between June and September.

Plant in moist but well-drained soil, preferably in full sun, with a trellis or canes for support (but some shade is acceptable and the plant can be planted to grow up shrubs and trees at the woodland edge). After one season the yield per plant is usually small and the tubers tend to range in size from 1 to 8 cm – but this is improved if you harvest (ideally in late autumn) after two or three years with existing tubers getting larger and more being produced.

I have only eaten the tubers simply boiled but have read that they can be eaten raw. Although they are very good for eating, it is wise to eat only small, well-cooked portions when introducing yourself to this essentially wild plant in case of negative reactions.

Price is for 2 small tubers – about 1-2cm in size. These are best planted up immediately in small pots of compost and placed in a cold frame over winter. Shoots should emerge in mid to late May. Grow the plants on for a few weeks and then plant out in their growing positions.

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