Index | Search | Home

New Crop FactSHEET

Apios

Contributor: Berthal D. Reynolds, Department of Horticulture, Louisiana State University.

Copyright © 1995. All Rights Reserved. Quotation from this document should cite and acknowledge the contributor.


  1. Common Names
  2. Scientific Names
  3. Uses
  4. Origin
  5. Crop Status
  6. Botany
  7. Crop Culture
  8. Germplasm
  9. Key References
  10. Selected Experts

Common Names

apios
groundnut
wild bean
bog potato
wild potato
Virginia potato
Indian potato
potato bean

Scientific Names

Species: Apios americana Medikus
Family: Leguminosae

Uses

The tubers, which are high in protein and starch, may be used for food after cooking. The large seeds are similar to peas, and are also edible. The Native Americans in what is now eastern United States made extensive use of apios. Apios contains some antinutrition factors, such as trypsin inhibitors, so it should be cooked before being eaten. A few people have shown an allergic reaction from eating apios.

Origin

Eastern North America

Crop Status

Apios is still a wild plant, neglected for the past 200 years. Progress in domestication has been made and research into possible food and medicinal uses is in progress.

Botany

Apios americana Medikus is a nitrogen fixing legume. It is a perennial vine which grows 1-6 m in length. The vine is killed by frost but the tubers survive winters even into southern Canada. Leaves are alternate, odd-pinnately compound, usually with 5 to 7 leaflets. The flowers are usually pink, maroon or brownish-red. They have typical papilionoid legume structure, are about 12 mm long and occur in compact racemes 75 to 130 mm in length. An explosive tripping mechanism requires insects for pollination. The fruit are 50 to 130 mm long containing six to thirteen wrinkled brown seeds. The brown-skinned, white-fleshed tubers are on underground stems (rhizomes) in branched or unbranched series. They can vary in diameter from 1-20 cm.

Crop Culture

Apios can be grown as an annual or as a perennial. In the wild, they are found mainly in moist areas growing on brush for support, but may be grown in cultivated fields without support. It is better to grow on a trellis if seed production is desired. Weed control is important for good yields. No herbicides are labeled for apios, so mulch or hoeing may be necessary. Usually whole tubers are planted. The seedlings are very heterozygous, and many will not have desirable horticultural traits. Selections of the best plants may be maintained clonally by planting the tubers. Rhizobium for southern peas is satisfactory for use in apios. The tubers may be left in the ground and dug as needed or may be dug in the fall and sorted at 1-5∞C. The tubers are approximately 50% dry matter, so may easily be dried for storage or grinding into flour. Much research remains to be done on apios culture and utilization.

Germplasm

Department of Horticulture, 137 Julian C. Miller Hall, LSU, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-2120
Department of Renewable Resources, USL, P.O. Box 44433, Lafayette, LA 70504
Grinnell Botanical Conservatory, 3016 Botanical Drive, Claremont, NC 28610
Paul Simon, Box 323, Rt. 2, Mulvane, KS 67110-9119

Key References

Selected Experts

William J. Blackmon, Rt. 10, Box 1007, Mechanicsville, VA 23111. Telephone: 804-746-8487

Berthal D. Reynolds, Department of Horticulture, Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station, 137 Julian C. Miller Hall, LSU, Baton Rouge, LA 70803. Telephone: 504-388-1030; FAX: 504-388-1068.

Contributor: Berthal D. Reynolds, Department of Horticulture, Louisiana State University.

Copyright © 1995. All Rights Reserved. Quotation from this document should cite and acknowledge the contributor.


Last update Monday, February 23, 1998 by aw