Place Names - Pomme de Terre

Pomme de Terre  

The Pomme de Terre was named for a prairie turnip – a potato like tuber that grows in the area. Pomme de Terre is French for potato. It literally means “apple of the earth” or “ground apple” in French.

These tubers were an important food source for tribes who lived on the Great Plains. Lakota call it timpsula and dig the tubers in June when it blossoms. Interestingly, the month of June is called tinpsila itkahca wi, meaning "the moon when breadroot is ripe."

According to Lewis & Clark, "The Dacotah or Sioux rove and follow the buffalo and raise no corn or anything else... They eat meat, and substitute the ground potato which grow in the plains for bread."(Clark’s journal, August 31, 1804) Clark’s journal also describes the, now extinct, Plains grizzly digging it with passion.

Common Names: Tipsin, Indian Breadroot, Breadroot Scurfpea, Pomme de Terre, Prairie Potato, Tipsinna
Scientific Name: Psoralea esculenta

For more information,



Watersheds | Blue Earth | Chippewa | Cottonwood | Hawk Creek | Lac qui Parle | Le Sueur | Pomme de Terre | Redwood | Watonwan | Yellow Medicine | Minnesota River |


Upham, Warren (1969) Minnesota Geographic Names. Minnesota Historical Society: St. Paul, MN
Durand, Paul (1994) Where the Waters Gather and the Rivers Meet: An Atlas of the Eastern Sioux. Prior Lake, MN
Minnesota Place Names


This page was last updated 4/15/11