Use of Ornamental Peanut Plants?
Q. My grandson has a severe peanut allergy. I want to plant some ornamental peanuts as landscape plants. They are sterile hybrids that do not produce any seeds or nuts. Will they be a problem?
A. Ornamental peanut plants (Arachis glabrata) have become popular for use as lawn ground cover. This distant perennial cousin of the common peanut, Arachis hypogaea, grows low to the ground and produces dense green foliage with small yellow flowers. Since it does not tolerate cold weather, the plant most commonly is grown in Florida and provides a hardy substitute to grasses commonly used in lawns. Its advantage over the common peanut is that it grows from rhizomes that spread underground. The peanut plant used to grow peanuts, on the other hand, produces legume pods underground that become the ground nuts that are used for food. Since the ornamental variety does not produce such pods, there is no risk that the plant would lead to an allergic reaction even if your grandson dug it up. Additionally, peanut allergens are not found in the foliage of peanut plants. Therefore, feel free to plant ornamental peanuts, enjoying the flowers and fullness of the ground cover without the worry of peanut allergic reactions.