The Way of the Groundnut


Hey there y’all. I wanted to share a piece I recently wrote focusing on the eastern Native American lifeway of the groundnut (Apios americana). Through historical accounts and references, native place names, tribal names, and botanical and horticultural knowledge we can piece together glimpses of a time when native American fires maintained the landscape east of the Mississippi River all the way to the Atlantic in an extensive patchwork of prairies, meadows, thickets, savannas, forests, and wetlands. Apios americana, called “peavine” by early White accounts, grew abundantly all throughout the open areas both in the uplands and the bottomlands, from Maine to Florida and Maryland to Colorado, and from Mississippi to North Dakota. The roots of Apios americana provide a major staple food wherever found. Being boiled and fried they taste like peanut butter, and contain 3x the amount of nutrition as a potato. Through the evidence that I provide in the article, I try to demonstrate that the groundnut (Apios) was an actively tended, stewarded plant, who owes its evolution and very distribution today to the efforts of countless generations of indigenous peoples. Hope you enjoy, and any feedback welcome…

(Alexander Meander) #2

really enjoyed reading this. thanks for your efforts Zach! <3


I really enjoyed reading it as well and appreciate the research involved in tying it all together.

It would be really neat to compile a book of ancestral plants that were/are used for food. I’m hoping to have my act together enough to start traveling around teaching basic workshops on nomadic horticulture techniques soon, or even better, inspiring people more qualified than myself to help develop or start teaching them, and I’ve found that learning the existing plants in each area is the most time consuming aspect of planning/research. I will definitely share anything I end up compiling.