Natural History at Ragged Chutes
The Hog Peanut (Amphicarpa bracteata),which
is often found along forest trails and roadways, yields two kinds of fruits.
The above-ground vines produce seeds, while below ground, its tuberous
root system yields small, potato-like enlargements growing on fibrous strands
just below the earth. The seeds are eaten by birds, while the tubers are
eaten by forest mammals. Native peoples also consumed these fruits, either
raw or cooked (for further reference, visit MuseumLink Illinois' page on
People in Forests).
Often encountered along forest trails, the Wood Nettle (Laportea canadensis),
posseses hairs which impart a painful sting to the unwary. However, its
young leaves are edible when cooked, and its fibers, when stripped from the
stems, can be twisted into twine for various uses (see several references
to human use of Laportea canadensis on Southern Illinois University's online ethnobotanical page Nettles For Food and Medicine
by Aimee Trojnar). Insects must also derive some benefit from the Wood Nettle,
as demonstrated by the riddled state of the leaves in these specimens.