Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for American Groundnut - Apios americana   MedikusOnly member of Apios in NC.
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Section 6 » Order Fabales » Family Fabaceae
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AuthorMedikus
DistributionOccurs statewide, and is likely present in all 100 counties.

This is a very widespread species found in most counties from eastern Canada south to southern FL and central TX.
AbundanceFrequent to common, and reasonably widespread, across the entire state. The NC NHP State Rank of S4 is certainly incorrect; it is clearly an S5 species in NC.
HabitatThis is a species of open to partly shaded wetlands, particularly in wet thickets, edges of marshes, and margins of lakes and ponds. When growing in bottomlands, it favors openings with some light hitting the plants.
PhenologyBlooms from June to August, and fruits from July to September.
IdentificationThis is an herbaceous vine that can grow onto other vegetation to a height or length of 10 feet. It can form thickets on shrubs and other herbs along the edge of a shoreline, for example. It is one of the few vines with typically 5 pinnate (versus palmate) leaflets; many species have only 3, and many other species have 7 or more, leaflets per leaf. Some of the leaves do contain 7 leaflets. The leaves are alternate, and pinnate in form, with each leaflet being lanceolate in shape, about 1.5" long and about 1/2 as wide. The flowers are a somewhat unusual (for a legume) brown to purple-brown, growing from axils in a ball-like cluster. Each flower is about 1/2" across. As with American Hog-Peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata), another herbaceous vine, this species can usually be identified in vegetative condition by its mostly 5 fairly narrow leaflets, but when in bloom it cannot be mistaken. It should not take long for you to find and become familiar with the species, if you spend time around the margins of wet thickets and shrubby borders of lakes and ponds.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Common Groundnut, Potato Bean. Often written simply as Ground-nut.
State RankS4 [S5]
Global RankG5
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