Apios americana (Groundnut)

Plant Info
Also known as: American Potato-bean, Indian Potato
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist woods and thickets, along shores
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:3 to 10 foot vine
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FACW NCNE: FACW
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: raceme Cluster type: round

[photo of flower] Flowers are irregular with a large upper lip that is divided into 2 “wings”, a lower lip with 2 small lobes and a curved gland protruding from the center. The outside of the upper lip is a dull light pink to brown and the lower lobes are dark red, purplish maroon to brown. A string of 5 to 10 flowers arises from the leaf axils and may be in a round cluster, or more spread out spike-like.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound in groups of 5 or 7; leaflets are up to 2½ inches long and 1 inch wide with a wide rounded base and pointed tip, on short stems. This is a vine that lacks tendrils, so the stem entwines around other plants to support itself.


The tubers produced by Groundnut are edible and are more nutritious than potatoes. The seeds are also edible.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Anoka and Ramsey counties. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


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

Posted by: dnpw - West Medicine Lake Park
on: 2010-08-14 23:11:51

This vine is found along the shore of Medicine Lake at the West Medicine Lake beach

Posted by: Ingrid - Embarrass
on: 2012-01-15 15:50:04

Found in woodland area not far from the Pike River.

Posted by: Charlene - Dakota County
on: 2012-08-21 08:03:24

Spotted near the Sibley House along the river in Mendota.

Posted by: Dan - Dakota County
on: 2013-09-05 14:08:17

I checked Charlene's spot today and found my first ones. I found them along the trail to the south of the bridge in Mendota.

Posted by: Sharron - Lake of the Woods County
on: 2014-08-23 15:39:43

Found it today, growing up near the shoreline of Lake of the Woods.

Posted by: Vicki - East Gull Lake
on: 2014-08-25 16:46:26

I found quite a few vines growing along our shoreline on Wilson Bay of Gull Lake. I did not see any of it last year and asked other homeowners on the peninsula if they were familiar with it. They were not. I love the way it looks so am very happy it is not an invasive species.

Posted by: Randy - Section 3 , Decoria Township Blue Earth County
on: 2014-12-17 13:43:24

Large population along Le Sueur River. Very tasty.

Posted by: Jana - Erlandson Park, Coon Rapids, MN
on: 2015-08-21 20:21:12

It's along parts of the trail by the powerline area

Posted by: Roberta - Winona
on: 2015-08-24 21:02:40

This vine is taking over parts of my prairie meadow. It started a couple of years ago and seemed to explode this year. It winds itself tightly around the stems of plants and creates a dense mat of leaves over them. It is almost impossible to pull out because of the tuber. I know it's native, but it's dominating my prairie, so I'm looking for ways to eliminate it - will try mowing the area.

Posted by: Stacey - Vadnais Heights
on: 2015-08-29 18:54:44

Found it growing on the edge of the woods along the shore of Lake Vadnais. Such a unique and beautiful flower!

Posted by: Linda - Lino Lakes
on: 2016-06-07 15:20:44

A few years ago I had purchased a truckload of soil from a local garden center. The soil must have contained some tubers because it is now taking over my flower garden. It didn't exist before adding the soil to the garden. I can't get rid it it and it is choking out my other plants.

Posted by: Brett W - Sherburne County
on: 2016-10-05 19:42:37

Found a large area of these in one spot in Uncas back in late August. Neat area.

Posted by: Kally - Sibley County
on: 2017-03-31 19:21:45

Found a 'nut' on a trail that beavers were frequenting near river. Perhaps they dug it up.

Posted by: Kathy Docken - Aitkin County
on: 2018-08-30 14:59:29

Along the shoreline of the NW corner of Cedar Lake - just S of 210 - West of Aitkin

Posted by: Marge Williams - Beltrami County, Turtle River Lake
on: 2018-09-04 21:08:40

Found amoung the shoreline vegetation at our CIC, 10 miles north of Bemidji.

Posted by: Velvet christle - Rice
on: 2019-08-11 10:20:16

I found this potatoe bean growing in my wisteria vine. It is very pretty. If anyone has any information on it , i would apreciate it. I didnt think this vine was from here.

Posted by: Donna Turner - Circle Pines
on: 2019-08-25 10:23:17

It is growing along the bike path at Baldwin Park in Circle Pines, Mn.

Posted by: Cole - waseca county
on: 2021-07-06 14:36:48

I had a couple white pines with yellow needles on lower branches so did soil test and found it was nitrogen deficient. Read that groundnuts can fix nitrogen and I hink it would be cool if this site mentioned if plants were nitrogen fixers, or had a list of all the MN plants that do.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-07-06 14:48:08

Cole, most (all?) members of the pea family are nitrogen fixers.

Posted by: L Limback - Mendota - Fort Snelling park trail that starts behind Sibley
on: 2021-08-24 10:42:02

Noticed a few vines along trail - not far from where trail goes under Hwy 55 (Mendota) Bridge.

Posted by: Kelly - South Minneapolis
on: 2022-07-24 15:19:39

Does anyone know where I could obtain one of these, either purchasing or without disturbing its natural habitat?

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2022-07-24 18:41:19

Kelly, I don't know whether any of the MN native plant nurseries sells this, but you might collect some seed and try growing it yourself. It's pretty common in metro area parks, especially near water. There won't likely be any seed until fall.

Posted by: Nancy Duncan - Lake Wabedo
on: 2022-08-31 09:54:39

This vine started appearing along the shore facing southwest a few years ago. I'm glad to see it's native.

Posted by: Luciearl - Lake Shore
on: 2022-09-04 09:38:35

Noticed this growing on the shore, Pillsbury State forest and also one flower on my own shore a few years ago. Im pleased it has spread and look for to seeing at the end of summer. Nice it has a nut for wildlife.

Posted by: John Lawrey - Bay Lake
on: 2023-08-19 15:07:35

I have long wanted to see this plant. Delighted to find it on the shoreline of Echo Bay.

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