Actually there are 2 plants that are referred to as water chestnut plants: the Trapa natans and the Eleocharis dulcis. Among this two, one is thought to be invasive while the other can be grown and eaten in a number of Asian dishes and stir-fries. Continue reading to learn more about water chestnut plants.
Water Chestnut Information
The Trapa natans is also called the Jesuit Nut or the Water Caltrops. The Trapa natans is a water plant with huge floating leaves grown in ponds. The Trapa natans are cultivated in China and commonly used in that cuisine, The Trapa natans is also grown to a lesser extent in southern Europe and Asia. The Trapa natans are considered invasive in most areas. The Eleocharis dulcis is also grown in ponds primarily in China and the edible tuber is then harvested for food. The Trapa natans and the Eleocharis dulcis are members of the sedge family (Cyperaceae) and they are true aquatic plants growing only in water. On this article we will be focusing on the growing of this type of water chestnut plant.
Furthermore, another water chestnut fact is its nutrition content; water chestnuts are actually high in sugar at 2 to 3 percent and it contain about eighteen percent starch, 4 to 5 percent protein, and a very little fiber (one percent). Water chestnut has a slew of other common names such as: horse’s hoof, waternut, hon matai, Kweilin matai, matai, pi chi, pi tsi sui matai, and kuro-kuwai.
Growing water chestnuts actually look like other water rushes with 4 to 6 tube-like stems that poke three to four feet above the surface of the water. Water chestnuts are cultivated for their one to two inch rhizomes, which have crisp white flesh and prized for its sweet, nutty flavor. The tubers of the plant look somewhat like gladiola bulbs and they are dirty brown in color on the outside. Water chestnuts are extremely valued ingredients in many Asian cuisines as well as culturally. Water chestnuts can be found not only in stir fries, where the crunchy texture is maintained due to the hemicellulos found in the tubers, but also in sweet drinks or syrups. Also, water chestnuts are used for medicinal purposes in Asian culture.
How to Plant Water Chestnut
Water chestnuts are primarily cultivated in China and then imported to the United States and other countries. Rarely have any attempts been made to cultivate it in the United States. However, it has been tried in California, Florida, and Hawaii with limited commercial success. Water chestnuts plants actually require controlled irrigation and about 220 frost free days to reach maturity. The corms are planted four to five inches deep in soil, thirty inches apart in rows, and then the field is flooded for a day. After that, the field is drained, and the water chestnuts plants are allowed to grow until they are twelve inches high. Then, once again, the field is flooded and remains so for the summer season. Corms reach maturity late in the fall wherein the field is drained thirty days prior to harvest. The water chestnuts plants cannot exist in swamplands or marshlands unless ditches or dikes are in place to control the water levels. It is unlikely that the home gardener will actually have much success growing water chestnuts plant.