Wild Rice

Wild rice is actually a member of the oat rather than the rice family, a water-oat. It grows wild in shallow lakes and along riverbanks in the northern United States and Canada. The Sioux called it "pshu" and the Chippewas "man-om-in," and it was the basic food for the northern residents of the lakes and rivers between the Mississippi and Lake Superior. Other names for this plant: "Indian rice," "water oats," "water rice," and the Latin scientific name of the Northern wild rice variety, Zizania palustris. When this Ziza-nia is called "wild rice" in discussions with Asians, they get confused. You have to explain that it's not the same thing as the wild rices related to true rice (0. sativa), of which there are many—all more appropriately called "wild rice" by Asians.

There are other varieties of Zizania: Interior wild rice, Southern wild rice, and Estuarine wild rice. But the Northern variety, Z. palustris, is the one North Americans commonly gather, plant, harvest, and eat; and that's the one they mean when they speak of "wild rice." Plant geneticists have recently created new varieties of Zizania wild rice; like corn, it has the convenient and unusual characteristic of having separate male and female flowers. more Reading: I know of only one book about growing and processing wild rice, but there are many, many useful magazine articles going back to the 1920s. The book is small but very good: Wild Rice in Canada by S.G. Aiken, P.E Lee, D. Punter, and J.M. Stewart, who based their work on the original monograph by William G. Dore. It lists the magazine articles.

Continue reading here: Growing Wild Rice

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