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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #375131

Research Project: SoyBase and the Legume Clade Database

Location: Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research

Title: Apios americana – natural history and ethnobotany

Author
item Kalberer, Scott
item BELAMKAR, VIKAS - University Of Nebraska
item SINGH, JUGPREET - Cornell University - New York
item Cannon, Steven

Submitted to: Legume Perspectives
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/21/2020
Publication Date: 11/5/2020
Citation: Kalberer, S.R., Belamkar, V., Singh, J., Cannon, S.B. 2020. Apios americana: natural history and ethnobotany. Legume Perspectives. (19):29-32.

Interpretive Summary: Apios americana, or "potato bean," is a species native to North America. It is related to other species of beans (e.g. common bean, cowpea, soybean), but is unusual in that it produces edible underground tubers. The tubers were used by Native Americans as a wild-collected food. The plant has potential as a cultivated crop, with several attractive characteristics: it is well adapted over much of eastern North America; it tolerates flooding and moderate drought; it is a perennial (maintaining itself through a network of underground tubers); and it is nutritious, with a good balance of complex carbohydrates and a protein level. This manuscript reviews the natural history and historical uses of Apios, and introduces work on its improvement as a crop.

Technical Abstract: Apios americana, or "potato bean," is a species native to North America. It is a legume in the Phaseoleae group (among the "warm-season" crop legumes including Phaseolus and Vigna), but is unusual in that it produces edible underground tubers. This review presents the natural history and ethnobotany of Apios: habitats in which it is found; anatomical and growth features; historical uses by several Native American groups; and early records of uses by European colonists. The review also introduces some breeding and evaluation work on Apios as a cultivated crop, highlighting its potential value in perennial plantings and in situations similar to typical native environments where Apios is found in the wild.