We have recently published ‘Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions’: i.e. tropical and sub-tropical regions. We rely on regular donations to keep our free database going and help fund development of this and another book we are planning on food forest plants for Mediterranean climates. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Trapa natans - L.

Common Name Water Chestnut
Family Trapaceae
USDA hardiness 6-12
Known Hazards The raw seed contains toxins but that these are destroyed in the cooking process[200, 206].
Habitats Water up to 60cm deep.
Range Europe to E. Asia, Indo-China and N. Africa.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Water Plants Full sun
Trapa natans Water Chestnut

Trapa natans Water Chestnut


Translate this page:


Physical Characteristics

Trapa natans is a PERENNIAL.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5. It is in flower from June to July. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It can grow in water.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed
Edible Uses:

Seed - raw, cooked or dried and ground into a powder[2, 3, 13, 34, 56, 63, 74, 100]. A sweet floury and agreeable flavour[27], similar to sweet chestnuts (Castanea spp)[183]. The seed contains up to 50% starch according to one report[46], 16% starch, 3% protein in another report[117] and 15% protein, 7.5% fat in a third[74]. (Are all these reports talking about the same thing?). One report says that the raw nut contains toxins that are destroyed by cooking the seed[200].

References   More on Edible Uses

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.
Antirheumatic  Febrifuge  Skin

The fruits are used in the preparation of liniments to treat elephantiasis, pestilent fevers, rheumatism, sores, sunburn and skin complaints[418 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

Other Uses


The seeds are sometimes used as beads in necklaces and rosaries[46 , 324 ]. The plant can be free-floating in the water, or rooting in the mud in shallow water. It is also able to grow out of water in very wet, muddy soils[418 ]. The plant is also grown as an ornamental in aquaria and outdoor ponds.

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A water plant, growing in water up to 60cm deep. Requires a sunny position in slightly acidic water[200]. Dislikes calcium rich water[50]. Prefers a rich soil[50, 56, 200]. Plants are hardy in all but the coldest parts of Britain[1]. A perennial, but it is best grown as an annual in Britain[3]. Some botanists regard this species as the only genuine member of the genus, all other species considered to be no more than a part of this one highly polymorphic species[200]. Occasionally cultivated for its edible seed, there is at least one named variety[1, 3, 13]. 'Su Zhou' is a form with red-coloured fruit[183].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

Seed - harvest in late summer and store overwinter in a jar of water in a cold but frost-free place. The seed quickly loses its vitality if it is allowed to become dry. Sow in spring, placing one seed in each pot and submerging them under a few centimetres of water.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Dyavolski oreh, European water chestnut, Heikak, Horn nut, Ling-chio, Rasac, Saligot, Shinghada, bat nut, buffalo nut, charcoal tree|diya ikili / ikiliya, devil pod, gara, gaunaree, horn nut, jalaphala, jalaphalam, jalfal, karimpola, karimpolam, kubyakam, paniphal, paniphala, shingoda, simgara, simgoda, singada, singade, singhada, singhade, singhara, singoda, srngataka, triko?aphala, vankotta, water caltrop, water chestnut, sr?gata, s??ga?aka (dried seed).

Native Range

TEMPERATE ASIA: Anhui Sheng, China, Fujian Sheng, Georgia, Guangdong Sheng, Guangxi Zhuangzu Zizhiqu, Guizhou Sheng, Hainan Sheng, Hebei Sheng, Heilongjiang Sheng, Henan Sheng, Hubei Sheng, Hunan Sheng, Japan, Jiangsu Sheng, Jiangxi Sheng, Jilin Sheng, Liaoning Sheng, Nei Mongol Zizhiqu, Shaanxi Sheng, Shandong Sheng, Sichuan Sheng, Xinjiang Uygur Zizhiqu, Xizang Zizhiqu, Yunnan Sheng, Zhejiang Sheng,Turkey (northwest). TROPICAL ASIA: India, Pakistan, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, EUROPE: Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Belarus, Ukraine (incl. Krym), Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain (incl. Baleares), France, AFRICA: Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal, .

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Least Concern

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Centaurea calcitrapaCommon Star Thistle, Red star-thistleBiennial0.6 0-0  LMHNDM11 
Tetrapanax papyriferRice Paper Plant, Chinese Rice Paper PlantShrub5.0 8-11 FLMHSNM112
Trapa bicornisLing, Horn nutPerennial0.0 4-8  LMHNWa41 
Trapa incisa Annual0.0 -  LMHNWa10 
Trapa japonica Annual0.0 -  LMHNWa10 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

michele   Sun Mar 4 2007

i would like to have the seeds of tis plant. how is it possible? thnaks michele [email protected]

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future.   Mon Mar 5 2007

Unfortunately, the seeds of this plant need to be kept moist otherwise they quickly lose their viability. For this reason, there are no seed suppliers that I am aware of. There are a few nurseries that supply the plant - the only one I know of is in Britain, though it does mail order to all countries in the European Union. For details of this nursery visit the Plant Finder at http://www.rhs.org.uk/RHSPlantFinder/plantfinder.asp

HK   Tue Jan 29 2008

I am not sure about the criteria, but I really think you guys need somebody who is familiar with TCM, Kampo or whatever. Just because you guys don't know does not mean that a given species does not have any notable medicinal property or importance in indigenous medicine. I just keep encountering this over and over here.

Keith   Mon Aug 11 2008

Also can be highly opportunistic (ie. 'invasive')- http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080805/NEWS01/80804013

Burlington Free Press Article Article about efforts 'combating' water chestnut

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Trapa natans  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.