Monthly Archives: December 2012

Water chestnut

Botanical Name :Water caltrop
Family: Lythraceae
Subfamily: Trapoideae
Genus: Trapa
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Myrtales

Common Names: water chestnut, buffalo nut, bat nut, devil pod, Singhara , Pani-fol

Habitat :Water chestnut is native to warm temperate parts of Eurasia and Africa

Description:
water chestnut is a floating annual aquatic plants, growing in slow-moving water up to 5 meters deep.The plant has three species of the genus Trapa: Trapa natans, T. bicornis and the endangered Trapa rossica.

Click to see pictures

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The plant  bears ornately shaped fruits, which in the case of T. bicornis resemble the head of a bull, each fruit containing a single very large starchy seed. T. natans and T. bicornis have been cultivated in China and India for at least 3,000 years for the edible seeds.

The water chestnut’s submerged stem reaches 12 to 15 ft (3.6 to 4.5 m) in length, anchored into the mud by very fine roots. It has two types of leaves, finely divided feather-like submerged leaves borne along the length of the stem, and undivided floating leaves borne in a rosette at the water’s surface. The floating leaves have saw-tooth edges and are ovoid or triangular in shape, 2–3 cm long, on inflated petioles 5–9 cm long, which provide added buoyancy for the leafy portion. Four-petalled white flowers form in early summer and are insect-pollinated. The fruit is a nut with four 0.5 in (1 cm), barbed spines. Seeds can remain viable for up to 12 years, although most will germinate within the first two years.

The plant spreads by the rosettes and fruits detaching from the stem and floating to another area on currents or by fruits clinging to objects, and animals.

The genus has an extensive fossil record, with numerous, distinctive species. Undisputed fossilized seeds have been found in Cenozoic strata starting from the Eocene throughout Europe, China and North America (though, the genus went extinct in North America prior to the Pleistocene). The oldest known fossils attributed to the genus, however, are of leaves from Cretaceous Alaska, referred to the species, T. borealis

Click to see water chestnut seeds  

Edible Uses:

Flour, Salt.

Corm – raw or cooked. A delicious taste, it is sweet and crisp when fully ripe and is starchy before that. Widely used in Chinese cooking, especially in chop suey. A flour or starch can be made from the dried and ground up corm and this is used to thicken sauces and to give a crisp coating to various deep-fried foods. The root is about 4cm in diameter, it contains about 36% starch. A nutritional analysis is available. The plant is used for making salt in Zimbabwe. No more details.The fresh corms can be peeled and eaten like a fresh fruit. The sweet, crisp nutty flavour resembles coconut, apple and some say macadamia nuts. Even if cooked, the chestnuts have the ability to remain crisp, which has been a feature highly favoured, for the texture effect of Chinese dishes. The sweet nutty flavour is popular with children. In fact, the plant is an ideal one to encourage the children to plant and watch grow and produce a treat.Chinese Water Chestnuts are a common ingredient in Chinese and Japanese dishes. They have a delightful appeal added to any stir-fry type dishes.They can also be added to salads.

You may click to see pictures of boiled water chestnut  

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Medicinal Uses:
In Asia people eat Chinese water chestnut for the prevention of stomach problems, including cancer. The corm is also used to relieve fevers, diarrhoea, indigestion, sore throat, jaundice, diabetes, hypertension to promote urination, strengthen the lungs and stomach for haemorrhoids and mouth ulcers. The plant is used to treat abdominal pain, amenorrhoea, hernia and liver problems. The expressed juice of the tuber is bactericidal.

Harvesting:
Chinese water chestnuts are harvested after the stems have turned brown and the corm skins have developed a dark brown colour. If the water can be drained away or pumped out, digging for the crop is simplified. This is where growing in a container will have a definite advantage.

Other Uses:

Weaving.

The leaf stems are used for weaving bags etc.

Cultivation :
A plant of marshes and shallow water, it prefers slightly acid soil conditions and a sunny position. Requires a rich fertile soil. Plants are not very frost hardy, the corms should be harvested at the end of the growing season and stored in a cool damp but frost-free position until the spring. It requires a 7 month frost-free growing season in order to produce a crop. Plants perform best at temperatures between 30 – 35°c during the leafy stage of growth, and about 5°c lower when the tubers are being formed.

Propagation:
Start corms in a tray of moist sawdust,then when about 8 cm high trans plant a 5 cm under and 20-40 cms apart into a half drum full to about 15 cm from the top with a mixture of manure and soil and enough water to cover soil with about 10 cm water.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:

http://www.iron-clay.com/herbal_remedies/chinese_water_chestnut.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_caltrop

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