South Dakota Native Plant Research
Fabaceae: Amphicarpaea bracteata

Fabaceae: Amphicarpaea bracteata


Download Seed: Above ground seeds of the hog peanut are around 5 mm long. (56 KB)

Download Seedling: Hog peanut seedling grown in research greenhouse. (67 KB)

Download Vegetative: The leaflets of the hog peanut are very thin. (54 KB)

Download Flowering: The hog peanut flowers in mid to late August. (50 KB)

Download Fruiting: The legume of the hog peanut produces 1 seed. (47 KB)

Download Above and below ground seeds and pods (83 KB)

Download Vines groing in Sica Hollow (1.4 MB)

Download Above ground legumes (323 KB)

Family Name


Common Name

Hog peanut, mouse beans


Amphicarpaea bracteate is a herbaceous annual vine with thin green stems reaching up to 2 m in length, found climbing on forbs, grasses and shrubs or sprawling on open hillsides or stream banks in shaded areas. The trifoliate alternate leaves have petioles that are 2-10 cm long with persistent membranous stipules. The leaflets are thin ovate with an acute apex and 2-10 cm long by 1.8-7 cm wide. Mouse beans produce 2 types of flowers. The above-ground flowers are found in axillary racemes (1.5-9cm long) and bloom in late summer. Each flower is subtended by 2 bracts. The calyx is composed of 5 sepals form a tube of 4-5 mm with 4 deltoid lobes extending 0.5-2 mm. The papilionaceous corolla is white to lilac in color. The stamens are diadelphous and there is a single pistil that forms a legume that is 1.4-5 cm long containing 2-5 seeds. The cleistogamous flowers are produced on creeping branches and lack well developed petals. They produce a single-seeded black pods containing 1 white seed about 1 cm in diameter.

Additional Notes

Mouse beans were prized by many of the North American indigenous peoples. The underground seeds are difficult to collect in large numbers requiring excavation of large sites. The traditional approach is said to have involved letting small rodents collect and cache the seeds in their middens and then exchanging corn or other grains for them when taking them from the middens. These are a beautiful addition to any shaded garden, providing food for birds and small animals and acting as a larval host for silver-spotted skipper and northern cloudy wing butterflies.

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Collect the brown seed in Aug.-Oct.
Germination: Plant above-ground seeds in the fall as they need cold treatment to germinate. Underground peanut also needs cold, but should be planted soon after harvest, as drying often damages the seed.
Soils: Prefers well drained loam to loamy-sandy soils.
Light: Full shade
Water: Prefers moist areas

Fabaceae: Amphicarpaea bracteata