BREADROOT SCURF-PEA
File Size: 85 KB
 
Pediomelum esculentum   (Pursh ) Rydb.
[=Psoralea esculenta Pursh]
Mitchell County, Kansas
Perennial
Height: 3-12 inches
Family: Fabaceae - Bean Family
Flowering Period:   May, June
Also Called: Indian breadroot, prairie turnip, prairie potato.
Stems: Erect, 1-3, simple or rarely branched, densely hairy.
Leaves: Alternate, on hairy stalks 1 to 6 inches long, palmately 5-foliolate; leaflets elliptic to oblong lanceolate, 1 to 2 inches long, 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide, mostly glabrous above, appressed-hairy below; tips rounded, blunt or pointed.
Inflorescences: Racemes, spike-like, dense, about 2 inches long, 1 inch thick, on stout stalks in leaf axils.
Flowers: Calyces bell-shaped, 5-lobed, hairy; corollas papilionaceous, to 3/4 inch long, blue, fading yellowish; stamens 10, 9 united, 1 free.
Fruits: Pods, egg-shaped, beaked; seeds 1, oblong, smooth, brownish.
Habitat: Prairie hillsides, plains, bluffs, stream valleys, and open woodlands.
Distribution: Throughout except southwest corner of Kansas.
Uses: Breadroot scurf-pea probably was the most important wild food gathered by Native Americans of the Great Plains. The tuberous root can be eaten raw, cooked, or dried. By mid-summer, the leaves and stem break off and blow away. Plains tribes dug the tubers before the tops were gone and often dried them for winter use.
Comments: Breadroot scurf-pea will decrease with grazing and is uncommon outside of undisturbed prairie.

Breadroot scurf-pea
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Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Breadroot scurf-pea inflorescence
87 KB
Mitchell County, Kansas
Breadroot scurf-pea leaves
157 KB
Mitchell County, Kansas
Breadroot scurf-pea tuber
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Smith County, Kansas
Breadroot scurf-pea
164 KB
Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Breadroot scurf-pea inflorescence
98 KB
Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Breadroot scurf-pea leaves
156 KB
Konza Prairie, Riley County, Kansas
Breadroot scurf-pea
108 KB
Mitchell County, Kansas
Breadroot scurf-pea
118 KB
Mitchell County, Kansas
Breadroot scurf-pea
147 KB
Mitchell County, Kansas
Breadroot scurf-pea
113 KB
Mitchell County, Kansas