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26 responses to “Contemplating Hopniss, the American Groundnut”

  1. Matt Peters

    Hank- Nice piece on hopniss; they certainly are a great food. I wanted to add 2 things. First, for those interested in foraging them, by far the easiest method to gather quantities is to scour eroded stream banks on foot or by canoe following spring high waters. They are frequently eroded out of the bank and dangle, waiting in abundance, to simply be picked up, particularly along stretches of river with somewhat open (ie. not heavily forested) floodplains, at least that’s the case here in VT. And they keep extraordinarily well in the fridge for many months of enjoyment.

    Second, I think it’s worth pointing out that some people can develop significant and progressively worse allergic reactions to this food (stomach upset and severe vomiting, at least). Unfortunately, this has been the case for my partner. Sam Thayer discusses this in his book, Forager’s Harvest, and after conferring with him following the reaction (2012), he suggested lengthy cooking times, perhaps as much as 3 hours, may be important to prevent development of such reactions in some people. Unfortunately the data points are few. It would be great to hear if there’s any new thinking on this point – or if anyone has found a way around the allergy for those already sensitized.

    Thanks for all the fun, informative, and delicious ideas!

  2. Ed

    I’m almost ashamed to post this. I’d never heard of Hopniss. All throughout the article the one thought that went through my head was “Do you think Katniss ate hopniss?”. I literally couldn’t get it out of my head. I’ll probably dream about Katniss Everdeen tonight 🙂

  3. Alan

    Well written and informative. Don’t suppose you would be willing to part some of your tubers?

  4. Elle

    You never cease to amaze and inspire! Do these grow in California anywhere?

  5. Peggy

    Just another food I see on here that I’ll have to seek out!

  6. Kevin

    In the southeast, it is very common along sandy openings near streams, especially near bridges. I think Price’s potato-bean (Apios priceana) produces a much, much larger tuber than A. americana…but it’s a Federal T&E species!

  7. MS

    I’ve seen roots like these at the edge of local waterways but never the flower. Are there other plants with that style of root that might be mistaken for it?

  8. Janet

    Wow, Curious plant, & I was beginning to get excited about finding this! Alas,… Now I have more research to do though…

    I noted in an article by Sam Thayer that it’s in the legume family… I’m DEATHLY allergic to Peanuts.. Peas, White beans & Lima Beans have gotten me into serious trouble in the past too (not really a Big loss to me as I Can’t Stand the taste of P & LB’s anyway; I just have to take it easy with not eating too many refried beans on my nachos 😉 ) Now the other biggie legume, soy, I’ve slowly grown to be mostly fine with, prolly because our market goods are SATURATED with the stuff! 😉

    At any rate,… after reading that comment about the Severe allergic reaction someone had, I’m thinking I should just stay CLEAR of this puppy, if only for the POTENTIAL risk d/t my familiarity with peanuts. Not likely to find it here in Colorado anyway, but as my son is a Boy Scout & they travel all around the country with various activities, think it’d be cool for him to be able to recognize it whilst out-n-about… Then he can give it a taste n tell me allllll about it. 😉

    THANK YOU for the Very informative post.

  9. Sherry

    Although Hopniss sounds mighty nutritious, I quite despise it… It spreads to my vegetable patch from a neighbouring property, choking out the vegetables I grow. I find it spreads all too readily and I’ve found it very difficult to eradicate. Should anyone have tips on how I can rid myself of this invasive tuber forever, I would be so glad for it!

  10. sasha

    Thanks so much for these recipes.

    I bought 4-5 plants about 6 years ago from Louisiana State University and started growing them in the Hudson valley, in upstate New York (zone 5A). They have subsequently behaved like the native that they are, and are now growing all over my veggie garden as well as escaping out into the surrounding meadow.

    I left them alone for a few years, using only the flowers in summer salads and to decorate cakes. These days however I am finding tubers the size of eggs – which is where your recipes come in!

    I would say my experience growing this plant has been 100% effortless. They are excellent climbers, can compete with grass and other weeds and co-exist very well with cultivated species like peas and beans.

    Great plant to stick in the ground and come back to in a few years!

  11. mary

    I did find this online (but would love to know more about how they spread so I don’t get too close to my veggie garden) Planting Groundnuts: “Groundnuts are easy to plant. They like full to partial sun, adequate moisture, and rich soil amended with organic material. The flowers are about ½ inch in diameter and are red-brown to pink. The vine is hardy in zones 4-9. The tubers spread, so amend a broad area of your soil with compost. Groundnuts are nitrogen-fixers, so they don’t need much fertilizer. Plant your tubers about 3 inches deep next to a lamp post, tree, pergola, or trellis. They’ll grow 6-12 feet, so they’re easier to maintain than other vines. Just be sure not to let your new vine dry out. Here’s the only catch: you have to wait a season or two for the plants to mature before you harvest your crop. By waiting, though, you’ll never have to re-plant, since you’ll never be able to harvest all of the tubers.”

  12. Lori

    Any advice on transplanting from the wild? I have found them growing around a local lake and want to see how they will do on the banks of a pond nearby. Another question, I was thinking of using the tubers pureed with salted fish for a brandade. Seemed like an obvious one to me Thoughts?

    BTW, I have been making my way through some of your wonderful game recipes. Next up, bear pelmeni.

  13. Elizabeth Donaldson

    I planted some of these last year, and didn’t even attempt to harvest them because they seemed to be stuggling a bit. Right now, second year, they are flourishing and flowering. Thanks for the great article! I’m really looking forward to pulling some up this fall!

  14. bob francini

    I brought around a dozen tubers from a guy I found online last year and planted them in a permaculture patch I was starting. I have 50 or so vines coming up this year. I just harvested a few today for dinner tonight and was looking for recipes when I found this page. Very informative. Sounds like I need to let them go for another year or so.

  15. Michael McDonald

    My people the Mi’kmaq call this root Sipekne’ which basically means ground nuts, we have used this as a food source for thousands of years, there is archaeological evidence we were making bread by grounding Sipekne’ into flour 3000 years ago. Lescarbot and Braird both describe my people using the root as a food source in their writings dating back as early as 1616. These writings can be found by googling Jesuit Relations.

  16. Lucy Meade

    I loved the article, it was very informative. I want so much to taste this wild potato, apios americana. How can I get some? My friend John told me of this plant and wants to purchase some tubers, but it is hard to find a place to buy from. Please, anyone out there in the foraging world, I want to try this groundnut so do John, can you help us in finding the tuber?
    I can taste it right now, I ate wild jerusalem artichoke which was delicious and hard to come by. John wants to plant the tubers this year if we can get some. Thank you Lucy Meade

  17. Linda B

    I was able to order 5 from Fedco (L387A-Apios americana Groundnut) this spring… 5 for $15. Their website is They are happily sprouting right now. Thanks for all the good info here!

  18. Ellen Zachos

    On the subject of developing allergies: I have never had any known food allergies but fear I may be developing one to Apios americana tubers. I love this wild food and it pains me to think I might not be able to eat it any more. But since we’re gathering data points, here’s what happened. I’ve eaten it several times with no ill consequences. After 5 or 6 times, I combined it with evening primrose tubers and became ill several hours later. My friend (who ate the same dish did not). I assumed it was the evening primrose, since I’d never eaten that tuber before. Last fall I hash browned the Apios tubers on their own and was violently ill within a half hour. It passed quickly but was very unpleasant. I suppose I’ll have to try it again, with a longer cooking prep, to test the theory and I’m not eactly looking forward to that. I’d be very interested in hearing from anyone else with this experience.

  19. Warren

    The plants can be found in abundance in many places on the wooded banks of the Mississippi River, in Tennessee. As someone else mentioned, when the river is high and scouring the banks, then drops, many of the tubers are left lying exposed. They also grow thickly in the forests around the swamps here, and be spotted by the flowers at a time when nothing else around the swamps is blooming.

  20. gary

    In the post you mention the flowers are edible, since groundnuts do not produce seedpods in my area (which is near its northern limit in the east) I’m especially interested to give these fragrant large flowers a try in salad and possibly also cooked.

    You can dry the flowers of at least some of the Pea family members for tea and other uses – one example being clover, has anyone any first hand experience with dried groundnut flowers?

  21. Chuck Schauberger

    Are there any toxic or undersirable look-alikes? I have tons of this stuff growing all over my farm in Wisconsin (yes, low land close to a trout stream) and I want to make sure I have a positive ID or a very low chance of failure to recognize evil before I proceed to trying to eat some.

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