Amphicarpaea bracteata

Botanical Name : Amphicarpaea bracteata
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Amphicarpaea
Species: A. bracteata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales

Synonyms :  A. monoica. (L.)Ell. Falcata comosa. (L.)Kuntze.

Common Name :Hog-peanut,  American hogpeanut

Habitat :Amphicarpaea bracteata is native to Eastern N. America – New Brunswick to Florida, west to Manitoba and Louisiana.Grows in   Cool damp woodlands

Description:
Amphicarpaea bracteata is a perennial climber growing to 1.5 m (5ft).Leaves have three leaflets and are held alternately on twining stems.Flowers are pink to white and bloom from late summer to autumn. The flowers are either open for cross-pollination or closed and self-pollinating. The closed flowers may be above or below ground.

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Seeds from open flowers are held in a flat pod, pointed at both ends, that dries when mature and twists to release the seeds. Seeds from closed flowers are held in round pods with a single seed each. The roots and seeds are edible.   The seeds from underground flowers give it the name peanut.

It is hardy to zone 7 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 10-May It is in flower from Aug to September, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It can fix Nitrogen.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in full shade (deep woodland)or semi-shade (light woodland).It requires moist soil.

Cultivation:  
Requires a moist humus-rich soil in a shady position. The young shoots in spring can be damaged by late frosts. The hog peanut has occasionally been cultivated for its edible seed which has been used as a peanut substitute. Yields at present, however, are rather low. Two types of blossom are produced by the plant – those produced from the leaf axils mostly abort but a few seeds are produced. Solitary, inconspicuous cleistogamous flowers are produced on thread-like stems near the root and, after flowering, the developing seedpods bury themselves into the soil in a manner similar to peanuts. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.

Propagation:
Seed – pre-soak for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in spring in a semi-shaded position in a greenhouse. Germination usually takes place within a few weeks. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out in late spring or early summer. Division. We have been unable to divide this plant because it only makes a small taproot. However, many of the seeds are produced under the ground and these can be harvested like tubers and potted up to make more plants.

Edible Uses :
Edible Parts: Root;  Seed.
Edible Uses:

Seed – raw or cooked. Two types of seed are produced – flowers produced near the ground produce a pod that buries itself just below soil level. These pods contain a single seed are up to 15mm in diameter which can be used as a peanut substitute. They can be harvested throughout the winter and can be eaten raw or cooked. They are sweet and delicious raw with a taste that is more like shelled garden beans than peanuts. Yields are rather low, and it can be a fiddle finding the seeds, but they do make a very pleasant and nutritious snack. Other flowers higher up the plant produce seed pods that do not bury themselves. The seeds in these pods are much smaller and are usually cooked before being eaten. They can be used in all the same ways as lentils and are a good source of protein. The overall crop of these seeds is rather low and they are also fiddly to harvest. Root – cooked. The root is peeled, boiled and then eaten. Fleshy and nutritious according to one report, whilst another says that the root is too small to be of much importance in the diet. Our plants have only produced small and stringy roots.

Medicinal Uses  
An infusion of the root has been used in the treatment of diarrhoea. Externally, the root has been applied to bites from rattlesnakes. A poultice of the pulverized leaves has been applied with any salve to swellings.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Amphicarpaea+bracteata
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphicarpaea_bracteata
http://wisplants.uwsp.edu/scripts/detail.asp?SpCode=AMPBRA

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