Pignut, the pigs plant

Conopodium majus (Apiaceae) gets its common names from its edible tuber and its attraction to pigs: commonly known as Pignut but also earth Chestnut, Groundnut or Saint Anthony’s nut (patron saint of swineherds). It is a delicate and slender hairless perennial that grows up to 50 cm tall. It prefers well drained, sunlit, slightly acidic soils and is often found in open woodland, grassland and heathland.  On campus it is  frequent in the rough grassland under the large oak trees in the Harris garden. The basal leaves are finely divided and often wither before flowering while the stem leaves are 2-3 pinnate and sheathing at the base. The flowers are white in 6-12 small umbels with 2 or more bracteoles, in a compound umbel with up to 2 bracts beneath it. It flowers April-July and the fruits are 3-4mm with 2 faintly ridged segments. The tuber lies at a 90 degree angle to the stem and breaks away easily to avoid detection. It is different to the root of other members of the Apiaceae family as it is spherical and has a maroon outer sheath that can be smooth or warty. Badgers and wild pigs forage for them and it is edibel to humans too and can be eaten raw or cooked, and has a nutty taste and spicy aftertaste.
Pignut tuber

Conopodium majus tuber (Collected by J. Hodgson, Photographed by C. Longford)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image credit: http://archaeobotany.dept.shef.ac.uk/wiki/index.php/Tubers_-_Identification:_Conopodium_majus

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