Apios fortunei is a herbaceous, perennial, climbing plant producing slender stems up to 2 metres long from a tuberous rootstock. The stems scramble over the ground, twining into the surrounding vegetation for support[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine.
E. Asia - central and southern China, Japan.
Woods and thickets; at elevations from 600 - 1,000 metres in W. China[
]. Sunny thickets and forest borders in Japan[
Apios fortunei is found at low to moderate elevations in central and southern China, where it grows in hardyness zones from 6 - 10.
Prefers a light rich soil and a sunny position[
]. Another report says that it prefers light dappled shade[
]. Tolerates acid soils[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
Tuber - raw or cooked[
]. It has a delicious flavour somewhat like sweet potatoes when roasted[
]. The tuber can also be dried and ground into a powder. It is sometimes fermented into an alcohol[
]. The tuber contains about 4.2% protein, 0.2% fat, 18.3% starch, 6% other carbohydrate, 1.3% ash[
The root is tonic[
Seed - pre-soak for 3 hours in tepid water and sow late winter/early spring in a cold frame. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months at 15°c[
]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out in late spring or early summer.
Division can be carried out at almost any time of the year, though spring is probably the best time. Simply dig up the roots, harvest the tubers and replant them where you want the plants to grow. It is also possible to harvest the tuber in winter, store them in a cool fairly dry but frost-free place over the winter and then plant them out in the spring. The tubers lose moisture rapidly once they have been harvested, so make sure that you store them in a damp medium such as leafmold.