Amphicarpaea bracteata (American Hog Peanut)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:annual, short-lived perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; moist woods, thickets
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:1 to 5 foot vine
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FAC NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in a compact cluster at the end of a long stem that arises from a leaf axil. A cluster has from a few to many flowers and spreads out as the plant matures. Each flower is an elongated pea-shape about ½ inch long and violet, 2-tone purple and white, or all white/cream colored. There are 5 lobes; the upper 2 lobes roll up on the outer edge.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound in groups of 3 at the end of a long stem. Leaflets are variously hairy and have a sharply pointed tip; the base is usually asymetrical and may be rounded or tapering, or roughly egg to diamond shaped. The middle leaflet is larger than the lateral 2, is up to 3 inches long and 2½ inches wide, and is long-stalked with the lateral leaflets stalkless or nearly so. Stems are quite hairy and lack tendrils, so entwines itself around other plants for support.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a green pea pod to 1½ inches long, each pod containing 3 or 4 seeds.


American Hog Peanut has 2 kinds of flower and seed—the second type of flower is near the base of the plant and does not open so isn't readily visible even if you're looking for it. Its seed is pear shaped, and edible. The peas on the upper plant are inedible.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park and at Sucker Lake, Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Mark - Vista Hills Park, Maplewood MN
on: 2010-08-21 14:06:10

Seen August 2010

Posted by: Steven - Duluth, MN
on: 2010-11-14 21:59:36

I saw this flower in the rocks next to the boardwalk on the Lake Superior side of Canal Park in front of the Inn on Lake Superior. It was on September 20, 2010.

Posted by: Dennis - New York Mills
on: 2011-05-22 12:34:18

I have this vine growing at Big Pine Lake between New York Mills and Perham.

Posted by: Mary - Little Pine Lake, Perham MN
on: 2011-08-20 14:43:07

I have this vine growing among some spirea in a shaded area of my yard.

Posted by: Charlene - Dakota County
on: 2012-08-21 08:06:45

Spotted near the Sibley house along the river in Mendota.

Posted by: Gabriel - South Minneapolis
on: 2014-06-09 01:51:52

I found this growing on the shady northeast side of my house. I transplanted it to a few new places. It's a gentle little vine, and while the flowers and pods aren't showy, they're interesting when you look at them up close. It may be the only vining legume that grows well in shade.

Posted by: cookie
on: 2014-07-04 22:43:43

This plant has taken over my garden. Bufrying a climbing rosebush. I pulled most of it out before I discovered what it was. Still plent left in varios spot through out garden will try to find a place for them where they won,toverwhelm other plants

Posted by: Christy - St. Paul
on: 2014-07-14 19:24:45

This vine is coming up everywhere in my garden! I pull it up because it twines around my perennials but there is still plenty left. It's a pretty vine. Will it kill the bushes it covers in summer or can they coexist?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2014-07-14 20:23:13

Christy, it coexists with the other plants in the wild and it seems to play nicely enough with its neighbors wherever I've encountered it. Having said that, your garden probably does not have the natural competition that keeps hog peanut in check in wild populations.

Posted by: Marnie - Goodhue County
on: 2014-07-22 20:58:41

We have LOTS of hog peanut growing in various regions adjacent to our lawn. I'm not sure I like the way it is covering our black-raspberry bushes. I also noticed the comment above about roses. It's almost impossible to pull off, because it twines many times around the stems. Any hints?

Posted by: Maureen - Lakeville
on: 2014-07-30 14:45:06

This vine is growing everywhere in my yard! It has taken over many parts of my gardens. It was never a problem in years past. The first time I noticed it, was about 2 years ago. The problem is that I cannot pull it off of my perennial plants. It winds itself around them tightly. It also seems to grow so dense that it shades many of the plants, causing them to wither. I do not believe this is healthy for the other plants. I don't think it plays nice. I also noticed that it is growing in many, many places around here. I saw a lot of it at Murphy Hanrahan Park Preserve. I have also seen it and other people's gardens. I wish I could eradicate it. Every time I try to pull it up, it is hanging onto the plant so tightly, that it damages them. Is there anything that can be done, other than try to pull it up by its roots? It is almost impossible to get to the base of the plant. Will it ever go away? It seems to be getting worse every year.

Posted by: Erin - Rockville
on: 2014-08-30 19:28:07

this is the third year I've seen this hog peanut vine in my forest garden. It went hog wild this year. it wraps itself around everything then covers everything up. the plant on its own is nice, but it has destroyed all my ferns and hostas.

Posted by: Mike in Elk River - varied - especially Itasca State Park.
on: 2014-08-31 16:46:02

The plant likes part shade, protects itself from overheating in direct sunlight patches by folding the triple leaflets together (like hands) so they aren't flat to the sunlight.

Posted by: Linda - Eagan
on: 2015-05-29 01:07:30

I always thought of hog peanut as a pretty little ground vine but last year it was on crack or something--maybe from so much moisture in the spring? I saw it completely smother raspberry plants along a trail in Lebanon Hills Park for 30 ft. Also, many other plants, including 3 ft. aspens. As mentioned by others, impossible to untwine it from plants if you don't catch it fast. Keep an eye on it if you can.

Posted by: Billy - Mendota
on: 2015-07-22 21:34:55

I have to second the above post for near the Sibley House in Mendota. I go there all the time, but upon reading the above post, I began looking for the Hog Peanut. There are TONS growing down the southern branch path... leading up to and surrounding below the 110/55 bridge.

Posted by: luciearl - Lake Shore, MN
on: 2015-08-17 03:56:12

I have this growing in various parts of my yard and woods. After cursing if for years because it tends to take over", I've read it actually has some value. Like clover, it adds nitrogen to the soil benefiting other plants.

Posted by: Dorothy - Clitherall
on: 2015-08-29 13:58:27

I have this peanut vine on my hill going down to the water. It is covering everything, choking out all the things I have planted, as well as the wild plants. I've been trying to pull it out, but I feel it's hopeless. And, because the hill is so steep, it's difficult to tackle.

Posted by: Amy - Richville
on: 2015-09-04 11:55:45

This grows very well along our wooded driveway.

Posted by: Patty - Medina
on: 2015-09-08 17:30:41

Came along with transplants from Orono property.

Posted by: Joe - S Mpls
on: 2015-10-06 17:03:36

Even pulling out the sprouting plants in the spring is barely enough to deter this vile vine. It's gone haywire this year and smothered other plants, and when I try to remove the dense canopy covering the victims, the tight winding knots sometimes pull everything else out of the ground as well. And the vine itself is a bit sharp and can cut exposed skin.

Posted by: Pete - Medina
on: 2016-07-09 21:37:18

We have this in the wilder areas of our yard (and shaded). I thought at first it might be a vine form of poison ivy (which we do also have). But it generally seems to form vines along the ground, and it seems much more ~dainty than poison ivy.

Posted by: Keith - Quarry Hill Park, Rochester
on: 2016-09-03 17:00:48

We found a few vines in the Oak Savannah.

Posted by: Elizabeth H - Cass County
on: 2017-05-23 19:08:10

It has destroyed my woodland garden. For the past six years I have risked deer tick exposures trying to eradicate it. Not only does it smother perennials, it has choked young white pines.

Posted by: Terry S - Minneapolis MN
on: 2017-06-11 17:45:41

Note that the common name is now considered disparaging to Native Americans. I try to use "ground bean" and to convince others to do so. The common name "hog-peanut" for Amphicarpaea bracteata carries racial stigma. Sam Thayer in The Forager's Harvest: "It is a derogatory term, meant to be demeaning to the Native Americans for whom this legume was common fare. Long ago in the American South, peanuts were considered food fit only for blacks; adding "hog" to the epithet suggested that this superb lentil, relished by Native Americans within its range, was even more lowly than the peanut and not fit for human consumption. This is typical of the way that Native Americans were made to feel ashamed of their heritage during the process of forced acculturation. The name has lost its derogatory connotation, but it still sounds terrible."

Posted by: Joseph C - Knife Lake, Kanebec Co
on: 2017-09-03 17:26:53

They are on the slope to the lake mingling with the Poison Ivy

Posted by: kristin driessen - Lake Shore, MN
on: 2018-06-05 12:23:45

Maureen, Lakeville. Although a native plant, it grows wild in many places including unwanted. Climbing my Asian lilies, just cut it at the bottom of the plant and save frustration of trying to get it off. Joe, nothing sharp on this plant. Must have been something else. I have 1000's of pine seedlings on 30 acres, also tons of hog peanut. They do not chose to grow in the same area. Natives tend to coexist.

Posted by: Rita Sandstrom - Chanhassen
on: 2018-07-19 22:16:08

Saw a few areas of this plant next to a trail in a heavily-wooded nature reserve that begins across 82nd St.W.from Spring Peeper Meadow north of Cty Rd 41 and Hwy 5 in Chanhassen. We were going to look into planting some in a shady area of our property where grass doesn't grow well, but after reading some of these comments, we won't!

Posted by: Susan Stanich - Duluth
on: 2018-09-08 12:53:32

Grows in dense thickets along a couple of trails in a far western Duluth public forest, near Jay Cooke Park..

Posted by: Stan Danielson - Bloomington
on: 2018-09-16 17:07:34

Found along Ikes Creek in the Bass Ponds.

Posted by: Anita J Hall - Bloomington
on: 2019-07-06 21:20:51

Just discovered it along the front edge of our property line in a moderately wooded, moderately steep area that used to be thick with buckthorn. I had never heard of hog peanut and initially wondered if it was poison ivy. This led me to investigate plants that look similar to poison ivy and voila - I have hog peanut plants! I'm trying to let this area go native so, for now, will let it be as it sounds like it has some beneficial aspects. However, I will keep an eye on it. Thanks

Posted by: Pat McKee - Longville
on: 2019-07-07 13:46:05

This vine has exploded in the last two years in the forested areas of our lake property, smothering other wildflowers and many new trees we planted under the DNR program. It's even taking down milkweed in sunny wild areas. It is too prevalent now to control. Really heartbroken. I didn't notice it until it was too late. Also makes it hard to walk through the woods because it catches your feet and trips you! Ugh.

Posted by: Robert Schmalzel
on: 2019-11-08 11:32:55

I enjoyed Terry's 2017 post drawing attention to the derogatory aspect of "hog potato". But let me point out that "keep hogs off the streets" codes were enacted fairly late in the 1800s for states along the upper Mississippi. If hogs were still 'cage free' in Minnesota, people would have plenty of experience with the hogs rooting up the tubers of hog potato (along with the bulbs and corms of many of the early spring wildflowers in the woods). Even today in parts of Iowa you can tell in spring where hogs had been allowed to forage 100 or 150 years ago by the complete lack of spring wildflowers in the forests.

Posted by: Lisa - Minneapolis, Longfellow/Howe neighborhood
on: 2020-05-26 10:34:09

this vine is all around our yard. I let it grow last year (summer 2019), only to find it climbed, tackled, and took down many of our other native species in our rain garden. Attempting control of the vines this year, but it's already proving very difficult. I don't ever recall seeing the flowers or seed pods last year, but will be on the look out for them this summer.

Posted by: Bill - Mahtomedi
on: 2020-07-31 22:25:14

This has taken off on my open oak woodland restoration after clearing of buckthorn a couple years back. 1/3 acre especially overgrown particularly as of this year. Like others above, it covers the ground and is overtaking most forbes. I'm beginning to fear for my shrubs. Most comments above show frustrated failure. Anyone, had any luck with control? What did those who mentioned intent to keep an eye on it decide?

Posted by: Steve Bruce - Nisswa
on: 2020-08-05 00:30:06

I have never seen this plant before and this year it is bountiful all throughout the property at the cabin. As a "leaves of three" plant, I was initially cautious - and have since discovered it to be the American hog peanut plant. It appears to have gone from 0 to 100 MPH just this year. It is everywhere...

Posted by: Dorothy - Cass Cty, approx 47 Lat, 93 Long
on: 2020-08-15 10:05:20

Amphicarpaea bracteata is invasive throughout my property and will quickly overgrow more desirable plants (shades of kudzu!) unless I constantly weed.. Does it propagate with rhizomes as well as seed? The only way I have found to keep it under control in my flower beds is to constantly pull young plants as soon as I notice them. This is a never-ending process throughout the growing season. Full-strength herbicide does seem to kill it, however, it is impossible to use this method once surrounding plants have erupted as Ground Bean seems to sprout near the root bed of the desired plant. Once the vine grows up a plant, trace the stem down to the ground, then pull out the roots (best done when soil is moist as it is shallow-rooted). The part left on your desired plant should die back, but, remove any flower heads as well. It was incorrectly identified as "bindweed" by a Master Gardner so I was unable to find it in Calystegia descriptions. Thank you for your wonderful site.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2020-08-16 07:42:44

Dorothy, aggressive native plants aren't typically considered "invasive", a label reserved for non-natives that displace natives in the wild. Regardless, we have experienced in our own gardens that virtually any native vine can grow like mad in cultivation, where the checks and balances that exist in natural settings don't come into play. We have eliminated nearly all native vines from our gardens as a result, since it is a lot of work to keep them in line. Whoever said native plant gardens were maintenance-free never had one!

Posted by: Anne P. - Minneapolis - Howe Neighborhood
on: 2020-08-20 18:36:24

I'm seeing this grow vigorously this year in several places along the Mississippi River Gorge lower trails in the Howe neighborhood. It is smothering natives like meadow rue, columbine, etc. and it is spreading. I fear that all efforts to plant/protect native wildflowers along the trails is for naught with this vine taking over. But, maybe it will smother the buckthorn?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2020-08-20 18:59:43

Anne, keep in mind that columbine and meadow rue are more or less dormant now and not really at risk of being wiped out by this vine (which is also native). They've been co-habitating for a long, long time.

Posted by: CINDY HAWKINSON - white bear lake
on: 2020-08-26 13:02:28

Agree with Dorothy 8/15/20 that this slim vine is best pulled as soon as you see it. It threatens to choke out the raspberry plants right as berries are ripening. Having said that, it does look lovely winding around the picket fence, until it "hits" the 6-ft Joe Pye weed and proceeds to take it down!

Posted by: Cole - Crow Wing County
on: 2021-07-07 11:23:32

This is scattered all over the woods where I have walked in Crow Wing County near Cross Lake. Turns out it is a good nitrogen fixer.

Posted by: Peter O. - Afton, MN
on: 2022-06-23 21:27:59

This plant is extremely prevalent in the woods behind my house. Unlike some of the other comments, I haven't found it to outcompete other plants at all. It densely covers bare ground very quickly, but it hasn't choked out anything from what I've seen. It doesn't twine around other plants' stems tightly enough to harm them, and the leaves are small enough that they don't block out too much light. It definitely seems to play nice when it's surrounded by plants it's naturally meant to coexist with. I've planted some in a shade garden beneath a tree, and it doesn't bother my ornamental plants much either. Perhaps the aggressiveness depends on the resources available to the plant or the conditions in which it grows. I certainly have no problem with it.

Posted by: Chris Wren - Highland Park
on: 2022-07-01 14:17:25

It is a larval host for Epargyreus clarus (Silver-Spotted Skipper), Autochton cellus (Gold-Banded Skipper),Urbanus proteus (the Long Tailed Skipper) , Strymon melinus (the Gray Hairstreak) and Thorybes pylades (the Northern Cloudywing) butterflies. Not so bad!

Posted by: Lisa - Dent Mn (McDonald Lake)
on: 2022-07-16 19:46:39

I finally found the name for this invasive weed on your site. I have hosta gardens adjacent to the woods and this year this nasty weed is taking over my part shade flower beds and hides under Plants like hostas and day lilies choking them out. Besides pulling them I do not know how to get rid of this nasty plant.

Posted by: Peggy Lu Gladhill - Trempealeau, WI
on: 2022-09-07 12:33:53

We live right across the river from the Great Bluffs State Park. I have had Am. Hog Peanut in our garden for several years. It seemed more aggressive this year. I appreciate the comment from Chris Wren and adjusted my "control" to now, as I am assuming the larval stages of listed butterflies are over.

Posted by: Nota Weed - US10
on: 2023-08-22 12:49:55

Lisa, Hostas are the ones not native to MN, not this amphicarpaea.

Posted by: Andy - Minneapolis
on: 2023-09-18 19:50:00

It grows only under the bur oak canopy in my yard and only next to the phlox. It seems specific/specialized in where it grows.

Posted by: Jeff
on: 2024-06-11 17:49:56

Terry S' 2017 comment about calling them beans has merit especially since, according to Melivin Gilmore's book, "Uses of Plants by the Indians of the MissouriRiver Region," p 43, (1914), the Dakota, Omaha-Ponca, Winnebago, and Pawnee names all translate as "beans." He also states that they would "appropriate part's of voles' stores to their own use." I intend to do the same if I can only figure out how to locate such things!

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