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Common Name: Chinese Water Chestnut
Corms for sale in a Chinese market
Photograph by: Anna Frodesiak
Creative Commons Zero, Public Domain Dedication
Eleocharis dulcis is a perennial plant that can grow up to 1.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
E. Asia - China, Japan, to northern Australia.
Marshy land and shallow water[
]. The edges of seasonal swamps in Australia[
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 tubers should be harvested at the end of the growing season and stored in a cool damp but frost-free position until the spring[
The water chestnut is widely cultivated for its edible tubers in China, there are some named varieties[
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[
]. This species is unlikely to succeed outdoors in Britain, though by starting the plants off early in a greenhouse it might be possible to obtain reasonable yields in good summers[
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 plant is used to treat a number of ailments including abdominal pain, amenorrhoea, hernia and liver problems[
The expressed juice of the tuber is bactericidal[
The leaf stems are used for weaving bags etc[
Seed - we have no details for this species but suggest sowing the seed as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in 3cm of water to keep the soil wet. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Division. Harvest the tubers at the end of the growing season, store them in a cool but frost-free place over the winter and plant them out in early spring.