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Zizania aquatica - L.                
Common Name Wild Rice, Annual wildrice
Family Poaceae or Gramineae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Shallow waters of rivers and lakes, preferring a slow moving current[20, 43].
Range Eastern N. America - New Brunswick to Manitoba, south to Florida and Texas.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Water Plants Full sun


Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Zizania aquatica is a ANNUAL growing to 3.5 m (11ft) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It can grow in water.

Zizania aquatica Wild Rice, Annual wildrice

Zizania aquatica Wild Rice, Annual wildrice
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Seed;  Stem.
Edible Uses:

Seed - cooked[257]. It can be used as a cereal. A staple food of the native North American Indians[95, 159], the long black delicious grain is eaten as an expensive gourmet meal[183]. It is used in the same ways that rice is used and is sometimes added to rice dishes to impart its subtle flavour. The seed can also be ground into a meal and used in making bread, thickening soups etc[183]. It is a very rich source of riboflavin and is also rich in niacin[160]. The base of the culms is used as a vegetable[74].
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known
Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details                                         
Easily grown in water up to 60cm deep, it tolerates water up to 1 metre deep though it prefers growing in water 10 - 20cm deep[136]. It dislikes stagnant water[20]. A very ornamental plant[1], it grows, flowers and fruits well in the lake and lily pond at Kew[136]. Plants can self-sow in Britain, but the seed tends to germinate too late to mature a fresh crop of seed in this country, so the plant gradually dies out[136]. It would possibly maintain itself in areas such as the Isle of Wight, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk[136]. It is a very hardy plant, the seed survives being frozen in ice[136]. Plants grown at a 30cm square spacing can produce 20 or more flowering shoots[136]. Often collected from the wild, this plant is now being cultivated commercially for its edible seed[183]. It is considered a gourmet's delicacy and is sold in many parts of the world, usually in health food shops and usually at a very high price[136]. Plants require protection from wild fowl otherwise they will devour the young growth[136]. Plants are occasionally sown by lakes and rivers in Europe to attract wild fowl[50].
Seed - it must not be allowed to dry out or it will quickly lose its viability, usually within 4 weeks[136]. Store collected seed in jars of water in a cool place such as the salad compartment of a fridge. Sow the seed in spring. Immerse the pots so that they are covered by about 5cm of water. It is best to sow 2 seeds per 7cm pot in a greenhouse in order to get early germination and a better chance of a crop[136]. Pot on as required and plant out about 30cm square in May, by which time the plants should be 20 - 30cm tall[136]. Larger quantities can be sown in shallow boxes and plunged into the pond etc in May.
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Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[20]Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Fairly good.
[43]Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany.
A bit dated but good and concise flora of the eastern part of N. America.
[50]? Flora Europaea
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
[74]Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR.
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers.
[95]Saunders. C. F. Edible and Useful Wild Plants of the United States and Canada.
Useful wild plants of America. A pocket guide.
[136]Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Kew Bulletin. 1909
An interesting article on growing wild rice, Zizania aquatica and Z. latifolia.
[159]McPherson. A. and S. Wild Food Plants of Indiana.
A nice pocket guide to this region of America.
[160]Natural Food Institute, Wonder Crops. 1987.
Fascinating reading, this is an annual publication. Some reports do seem somewhat exaggerated though.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[257]Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.

Readers comment                                         
Elizabeth H.
amy lightfoot Mon Nov 21 2005
interesting website. We are interested in obtaining seed to grow wild rice in Europe. WIld rice, not gene modified. We believe we have the perfect place to do it and it is only for our own personal use, not for sale, no big volume.
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Subject : Zizania aquatica  

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