Apios (Apios americana) is a vine native to the Maritimes and other parts of North America. It produces brown oval tubers, ranging in size from a walnut to about 2/3s the size of a hen’s egg. The tubers, which contain three times as much protein as potatoes, have many names including potato bean, hopniss, Indian potato, hodoimo and American groundnut.
The apios plant grows 3-15 feet and winds it way up trees. The plant is related to legumes and fixes nitrogen — so it may help, not hinder, the growth of the plants it climbs on.
The tubers are traditionally boiled. Apparently, some First Nations boiled the tubers and then dried and ground them into the flour. They made something like apios fritters by frying apios dough in animal fat. Another traditional recipe was to roast the tubers with maple syrup.
The only place in the world where apios are grown commercially is in Japan. The plant was introduced accidentally, possibly with apple tree seedlings. For more than one hundred years, apios had been cultivated as a crop.