Guide to Using Rhizomal Perennial Peanut in the Urban Landscape
Reproduced from University of Florida IFAS document - Authors: Robert E. Rouse, Elan M. Miavitz, and Fritz M. Roka2
The perennial peanut evolved in tropical conditions and is adapted to subtropical and warm temperate climates. In the northern hemisphere, this would include locations below 32o north latitude (Florida-Georgia state line) having a long, warm growing season.
Perennial peanut was first introduced from Brazil in 1936 and since that time no insect, disease, or nematode pests have been identified that cause economic loss. Since its introduction, it has not spread into natural areas or become a nuisance plant in unimproved properties. Rhizomal perennial peanut does not reproduce by seed; therefore, it can't be carried by birds or wildlife or transported in plant material to unintended areas.
Perennial peanut has recently shown promise as an ornamental groundcover due to its high resistance to drought, nematodes, and pathogens and its minimal fertilizer needs. This translates into savings in water, energy, dollars, and reduced impacts to the environment. It is not only beneficial to the environment since it requires no supplemental nitrogen or phosphorus fertilization or pest control, but it also is aesthetically pleasing, can be walked on, and has edible, peanut flavored flowers.
Due to rapid urbanization, water has become a precious commodity in Florida. Water management districts are encouraging the implementation of year-round water restrictions and the use of drought tolerant plants, of which perennial peanut is a good candidate. Perennial peanut has potential landscape uses as a groundcover in home landscapes (Fig. 2), road medians (Figures 3 & 4 below), driveways and parking lot islands (Figure 6 on the next page), golf courses, along berms, septic tank mounds, and canal banks. Perennial peanut can also be used as a buffer to waterways prone to runoff high in N (Nitrogen) and P (Phosphorus).
Perennial Peanut in the Urban Landscape
Success Stories: In Florida, the city of Jacksonville uses perennial peanut in medians; Highway 19 south of Chiefland has a 30-year-old stand of 'Arblick' in the median; and Tampa Bay Skyway also has a highway planting of perennial peanut growing in limerock.
In Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica, medians, lawns, hotel entryways, and roadsides are planted with perennial peanut. Although this region is in a dry forest for 10 months of the year, these perennial peanut areas remain green without having to be mowed, fertilized, or irrigated.
Figure 1. Perennial peanut canopy with yellow-gold flowers.
Figure 2. Perennial peanut used on a landscape berm.
Figure 3. Perennial peanut groundcover in a road median.
Figure 4. Perennial peanut four weeks after planting in a median near the ocean.