April 24, 2017

Underground Bloomer

Amphicarpaea bracteata - American hog peanut

Amphicarpaea bracteata – American hog peanut | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Most curious is Amphicarpaea bracteata, a vining member of the legume family that is native to eastern North America. Known as American hog peanut, the plant has two types of flowers: those above ground and those below. The self-fertilizing underground flowers form edible seeds that were once a source of food for Native Americans. As a legume, American hog peanut is a nitrogen fixer. According to the Apios Institute, “It is one of the few nitrogen fixers for shade – commonly found in dense mats in dry open woods in New England. As a groundcover it is very dense and will smother anything under 3 feet tall by late summer.”

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.

In 2012, Glen began working to catalog the plants of Baxter State Park, which you can read about here and find out how to sponsor a plant of your own. Courtesy of a poll taken in 2012, Garden Maine is sponsoring this lovely plant.