Zizania aquatica

(“Wild Rice.” Eat The Weeds, www.eattheweeds.com/wild-rice/.)

Common Name(s) Wild Rice
Scientific Name Zizania aquatica
Family Poaceae
Location/Vegetative Zone Shallow water in small lakes and slow-flowing streams
Flowering Period July-September, seeds ripen from September-October
Identifying Characteristics Grows up to 11ft, long leafless stalk with small yellow-white seeds at the top


  • Annual plant
  • Grows up to 11ft tall
  • Leaves are:
    • Lanceolate
    • Flat, very thin
    • 1 m long, 4 cm wide
    • Purple leaf markings
  • White to purple flowers
    • Flowers tiny and grow on spikelets
    • Bloom from July-September
    • Produces a dark brown to black seed
    • Seeds ripen from September-October


  • Habitat:
    • Shallow water in small lakes and streams
    • Likes sandy, loamy, or clay soil
    • Needs sunlight- cannot grow in shade
    • Grows in Eastern North America , New Brunswick to Manitoba, south to Florida and Texas
  • Edibility:
    • Grain can be harvested
    • When the seed is cooked, it can be used as a cereal
    • Was a staple food source to the Native American Indians and the Chinese
    • Has a high nutritional value and great taste
    • High in protein, amino acids, and dietary fiber, and low in fat
    • Can also be ground into meal and used to make bread
    • In China, the stem is used as a vegetable
    • Wild rice seeds can be infected by the highly toxic fungus ergot, which is dangerous if eaten. Infected grains have pink or purplish blotches.

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