Amphicarpaea bracteata (L.) Fernald

Hog Peanut


CC = 4
CW = 0
MOC = 79

© SRTurner

Family - Fabaceae/Faboideae

Habit - Taprooted annual, climbing on other vegetation.

Stems - Twining, to 2 m, herbaceous, glabrous to densely pubescent with antrorse to spreading hairs.

Amphicarpaea_bracteata_stem.jpg Stem.

© DETenaglia

Leaves - Alternate, pinnately trifoliolate, petiolate. Petiole to 5 cm long, hairy. Stipules ovate, membranous, to 5 mm long. Leaflets ovate to rhombic, variously pubescent, entire, to 10 cm long, usually bluntly pointed, often asymetrical at base, the stipels deciduous, 1-2 mm long. Stalk of center leaflet much longer than those of lateral leaflets.

Amphicarpaea_bracteata_leaves.jpg Leaves.

© DETenaglia

Amphicarpaea_bracteata_leaf2.jpg Leaflets abaxial.

© SRTurner

Inflorescence - Pendant, axillary racemes.

Amphicarpaea_bracteata_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© DETenaglia

Flowers - Chasmogamous flowers to 1.5 cm long, papilionaceous. Corolla purplish to white. Stamens diadelphous. Calyx of 5 sepals united more than half there length, upper two sepals united for entire length creating a 4-lobed calyx to 5 mm long.

Amphicarpaea_bracteata_purple_flowers.jpg Purple flowers.

© DETenaglia

Amphicarpaea_bracteata_white_flowers.jpg White flowers.

© DETenaglia

Amphicarpaea_bracteata_calyx.jpg Calyces.

© DETenaglia

Fruits - (Of chasmogamous flowers) - To 4 cm long, flattened, with 2-4 seeds, oblong-linear. Fruits (of cleistogamous flowers) - 1 seeded, pyriform.

Amphicarpaea_bracteata_fruits.jpg Fruits.

© SRTurner

Amphicarpaea_bracteata_seeds.jpg Seeds.

© SRTurner

Flowering - August - October.

Habitat - Open woods, thickets, moist slopes.

Lookalikes - None close.

Origin - Native to tropical America. Also cultivated.

Lookalikes - Vegetatively similar to species of Strophostyles.

Other info. - Steyermark listed two varieties for this species: var. comosa, having larger leaves and dense pubescence, and var. bracteata, having the opposing characters. Yatskievych did not formally accept this division, citing free intergradation, absence of geographical correlation, and frequent mixed populations. However, he also made note of some genetic basis for the distinction and stated the need for further work in the area.

Hog peanut has an interesting reproductive system. Open "chasmogamous" flowers, with papilionaceous corollas and normal pollination, are produced in short racemes from upper nodes. The fruits arising from these are flat legumes with 2-4 seeds each. On lower parts of the plant, "cleistogamous" flowers are often produced, sometimes even below the soil surface. These do not open and are self-pollinated. The fruits resulting from the cleistogamous flowers are large, fleshy, and one-seeded, and are an important food source for mice and voles. They were also gathered as a food source by Native Americans. When cooked they reportedly taste like green beans. This dichotomy is reflected in the genus name Amphicarpaea, which means "two types of fruit."

Photographs taken in Brown Summit, NC., 9-8-02 (DETenaglia); also at Victoria Glade, Jefferson County, MO, 8-30-2015; Lost Creek Conservation Area, Warren County, MO, 9-6-2016; along the Katy Trail near Dutzow, 9-19-2019 and 10-17-2019, and along the Al Foster Trail near Glencoe, St. Louis County, MO, 9-9-2021 (SRTurner).