Herbs & Plants

Euryale ferox

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Botanical Name:Euryale ferox

Family: Nymphaeaceae

Genus: Euryale

Species: E. ferox

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Nymphaeales

Common Names:Fox nut, Foxnut, Makhana, or Gorgon plant,Prickly water lily.

Habitat : Euryale ferox is  native to eastern Asia, and is found from India to Korea and Japan, as well as parts of eastern Russia. It grows on ponds and lakes in lowland areas.


Euryale feroxis a perennial/ annual plant. It grows in water, producing bright purple flowers. The leaves are large and round, often more than a meter (3 feet) across, with a leaf stalk attached in the center of the lower surface. The underside of the leaf is purplish, while the upper surface is green. The leaves have a quilted texture, although the stems, flowers, and leaves which float on the surface are covered in sharp prickles. Other leaves are submerged.


Edible Uses:

The plant produces starchy white seeds, and the seeds are edible. The plant is cultivated for its seeds   in lowland ponds in India, China, and Japan. The Chinese have cultivated the plant for over 3000 years. More than 96,000 hectares of Bihar, India, were set aside for cultivation of Euryale in 1990-1991.  The plant does best in locations with hot, dry summers and cold winters. Seeds are collected in the late summer and early autumn, and may be eaten raw or cooked.

In India, particularly in the northern (Punjab) and western parts of the country, Euryale ferox seeds are often roasted or fried, which causes them to pop like popcorn. These are then eaten, often with a sprinkling of oil and spices. In Mithila culture of Mithilanchal ,makhana known as Makhaan in Maithili is an auspicious ingredient in offerings to the Goddesses during festivals and is used to show reverence and in cooking , specially to make a porridge/pudding called kheer of makhana or ‘makhaanak kheer’ or ‘makhaanak payasam’. Makhhaan along with Paan (betel leaf),Maachch (fish) is symbolic to Maithil Culture.

Evidence from archaeobotany indicates that Euryale ferox was a frequently collected wild food source during the Neolithic period in the Yangtze region, with large numbers of finds coming from the sites of Kuahuqiao, Hemudu, and Tianluoshan.

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Seed (Dry weight)

*400 Calories per 100g
*Water : 0%
*Protein: 10.3g; Fat: 0.2g; Carbohydrate: 89g; Fibre: 0.2g; Ash: 0.6g;
*Minerals – Calcium: 34mg; Phosphorus: 100mg; Iron: 1.5mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 66mg; Zinc: 0mg;
*Vitamins – A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;

Medicinal Uses:

The leaf is used in cases of difficult parturition. The seed is a sweet and sour astringent herb that acts as a tonic for the kidney and the spleen. The seed is analgesic and aphrodisiac. It is taken internally in the treatment of chronic diarrhea, vaginal discharge, kidney weakness associated with frequent urination, impotence, premature and involuntary ejaculation and nocturnal emissions.

In China the plant is called qiàn shí.  Its edible seeds are used in traditional Chinese medicine, where they are often cooked in soups along with other ingredients

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


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