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Wild rice

Wild rice

Overview
Wild rice is four species of grasses
Poaceae
The Poaceae is a large and nearly ubiquitous family of flowering plants. Members of this family are commonly called grasses, although the term "grass" is also applied to plants that are not in the Poaceae lineage, including the rushes and sedges...

 forming the genus Zizania, and the grain which can be harvested from them. The grain was historically gathered and eaten in both North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. While it is now something of a delicacy in North America, the grain is eaten less in China, where the plant's stem is used as a vegetable.

Wild rice is not directly related to Asian rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

 (Oryza sativa
Oryza sativa
Oryza sativa, commonly known as Asian rice, is the plant species most commonly referred to in English as rice. Oryza sativa is the cereal with the smallest genome, consisting of just 430Mb across 12 chromosomes...

), whose wild progenitors are O. rufipogon
Oryza rufipogon
Oryza rufipogon, known as brownbeard rice and red rice is a member of the genus Oryza. It has a close evolutionary relation to Oryza sativa, the rice grown as a major food crop throughout the world. O...

 and O. nivara
Oryza nivara
Oryza nivara is a wild progenitor of the cultivated rice Oryza sativa. It is found growing in swampy areas, at edge of pond and tanks, beside streams, in ditches, in or around rice fields...

, although they are close cousins, sharing the tribe
Tribe (biology)
In biology, a tribe is a taxonomic rank between family and genus. It is sometimes subdivided into subtribes.Some examples include the tribes: Canini, Acalypheae, Hominini, Bombini, and Antidesmeae.-See also:* Biological classification* Rank...

 Oryzeae
Oryzeae
Oryzeae is a tribe of flowering plants in the grass family, Poaceae. It contains 12 genera, including both cultivated rice and wild rice .-Genera:* Chikusichloa Koidz.* Hygroryza Nees* Leersia Sw.* Luziola Juss....

.
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Encyclopedia
Wild rice is four species of grasses
Poaceae
The Poaceae is a large and nearly ubiquitous family of flowering plants. Members of this family are commonly called grasses, although the term "grass" is also applied to plants that are not in the Poaceae lineage, including the rushes and sedges...

 forming the genus Zizania, and the grain which can be harvested from them. The grain was historically gathered and eaten in both North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. While it is now something of a delicacy in North America, the grain is eaten less in China, where the plant's stem is used as a vegetable.

Wild rice is not directly related to Asian rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

 (Oryza sativa
Oryza sativa
Oryza sativa, commonly known as Asian rice, is the plant species most commonly referred to in English as rice. Oryza sativa is the cereal with the smallest genome, consisting of just 430Mb across 12 chromosomes...

), whose wild progenitors are O. rufipogon
Oryza rufipogon
Oryza rufipogon, known as brownbeard rice and red rice is a member of the genus Oryza. It has a close evolutionary relation to Oryza sativa, the rice grown as a major food crop throughout the world. O...

 and O. nivara
Oryza nivara
Oryza nivara is a wild progenitor of the cultivated rice Oryza sativa. It is found growing in swampy areas, at edge of pond and tanks, beside streams, in ditches, in or around rice fields...

, although they are close cousins, sharing the tribe
Tribe (biology)
In biology, a tribe is a taxonomic rank between family and genus. It is sometimes subdivided into subtribes.Some examples include the tribes: Canini, Acalypheae, Hominini, Bombini, and Antidesmeae.-See also:* Biological classification* Rank...

 Oryzeae
Oryzeae
Oryzeae is a tribe of flowering plants in the grass family, Poaceae. It contains 12 genera, including both cultivated rice and wild rice .-Genera:* Chikusichloa Koidz.* Hygroryza Nees* Leersia Sw.* Luziola Juss....

. It is also not the plant described as ζιζάνια (zizania) in the Parable of the Tares in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, which is thought to be Lolium temulentum
Lolium temulentum
Lolium temulentum, typically known as darnel, poison darnel or cockle, is an annual plant that forms part of the Poaceae family and part of the Lolium genus. The plant stem can grow up to one meter tall, with inflorescence in the ears and purple grain...

.

The plants grow in shallow water in small lake
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

s and slow-flowing stream
Stream
A stream is a body of water with a current, confined within a bed and stream banks. Depending on its locale or certain characteristics, a stream may be referred to as a branch, brook, beck, burn, creek, "crick", gill , kill, lick, rill, river, syke, bayou, rivulet, streamage, wash, run or...

s; often, only the flowering head of wild rice rises above the water. The grain is eaten by dabbling ducks and other aquatic wildlife, as well as humans.

Species


Three species of wild rice are native to North America:
  • Northern wild rice (Zizania palustris) is an annual plant
    Annual plant
    An annual plant is a plant that usually germinates, flowers, and dies in a year or season. True annuals will only live longer than a year if they are prevented from setting seed...

     native to the Great Lakes region of North America, the aquatic areas of the Boreal Forest
    Boreal forest of Canada
    Canada's boreal forest comprises about one third of the circumpolar boreal forest that rings the northern hemisphere, mostly north of the 50th parallel. Other countries with boreal forest include Russia, which contains the majority, and the Scandinavian and Nordic countries . The boreal region in...

     regions of Alberta
    Alberta
    Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...

    , Saskatchewan
    Saskatchewan
    Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

     and Manitoba
    Manitoba
    Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

     and Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan in the US.
  • Wild rice (Z. aquatica), also an annual, grows in the Saint Lawrence River
    Saint Lawrence River
    The Saint Lawrence is a large river flowing approximately from southwest to northeast in the middle latitudes of North America, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. It is the primary drainage conveyor of the Great Lakes Basin...

     and on the Atlantic
    Atlantic Ocean
    The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

     and Gulf
    Gulf of Mexico
    The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

     coasts of the United States
    United States
    The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

    .
  • Texas wild rice (Z. texana) is a perennial plant
    Perennial plant
    A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives for more than two years. The term is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter lived annuals and biennials. The term is sometimes misused by commercial gardeners or horticulturalists to describe only herbaceous perennials...

     only found in a small area along the San Marcos River
    San Marcos River
    The San Marcos River rises from the San Marcos Springs, the location of Aquarena Springs, in San Marcos, Texas. The springs are home to several threatened or endangered species, including the Texas Blind Salamander, Fountain Darter, and Texas Wild Rice...

     in central Texas
    Texas
    Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

    .

One species is native to Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

:
  • Manchurian wild rice (Z. latifolia; incorrect synonym: Z. caduciflora), is a perennial native to China.


Texas wild rice
Zizania texana
Zizania texana is a rare species of grass known by the common name Texas wild rice. It is endemic to Texas, where it is found only on the upper San Marcos River in Hays County. It is threatened by the loss and degradation of its habitat...

 is in danger of extinction
Extinction
In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms , normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point...

 due to loss of suitable habitat in its limited range and to pollution
Pollution
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat or light...

. The pollen of Texas wild rice can only travel about 30 inches away from a parent plant. If pollen does not land on a receptive female flower within that distance, no seeds are produced. Manchurian wild rice has almost disappeared from the wild in its native range, but has been accidentally introduced into the wild in New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 and is considered an invasive species
Invasive species
"Invasive species", or invasive exotics, is a nomenclature term and categorization phrase used for flora and fauna, and for specific restoration-preservation processes in native habitats, with several definitions....

 there.

Use as food



The species most commonly harvested as grain
Cereal
Cereals are grasses cultivated for the edible components of their grain , composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran...

 is the annual species Zizania palustris. Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 and non-Indians harvest wild rice by canoe
Canoe
A canoe or Canadian canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes are usually pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be decked over A canoe (North American English) or Canadian...

ing into a stand of plants, and bending the ripe grain heads with wooden sticks called knockers, so as to thresh
Threshing
Threshing is the process of loosening the edible part of cereal grain from the scaly, inedible chaff that surrounds it. It is the step in grain preparation after harvesting and before winnowing, which separates the loosened chaff from the grain...

 the seeds into the canoe.

The size of the knockers, as well as other details, are prescribed in state and tribal law. By Minnesota statute, knockers must be at most 1 inch in diameter, 30 inches long, and one pound in weight. The plants are not beaten with the knockers but require only a gentle brushing to dislodge the mature grain. The Ojibwa
Ojibwa
The Ojibwe or Chippewa are among the largest groups of Native Americans–First Nations north of Mexico. They are divided between Canada and the United States. In Canada, they are the third-largest population among First Nations, surpassed only by Cree and Inuit...

 people call this plant manoomin meaning "good berry". Some seeds fall to the muddy bottom and germinate later in the year.
Several Native American cultures, such as the Ojibwa, consider wild rice to be a sacred component in their culture. The rice is harvested with a canoe: one person vans (or "knocks") rice into the canoe with two small poles (called "knockers" or "flails") while the other paddles slowly or uses a push pole. For these groups, this harvest is an important cultural (and often economic) event. Named by the Ojibwe, the neighboring Omanoominii (the Menominee
Menominee
Some placenames use other spellings, see also Menomonee and Menomonie.The Menominee are a nation of Native Americans living in Wisconsin. The Menominee, along with the Ho-Chunk, are the only tribes that are indigenous to what is now Wisconsin...

 tribe, whose endonym is Mamaceqtaw, "the people") is named after this plant. Many places in Illinois, Indiana, Manitoba, Michigan, Minnesota, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Wisconsin are named after this plant, including Mahnomen, Minnesota
Mahnomen, Minnesota
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,202 people, 532 households, and 311 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,252.9 people per square mile . There were 576 housing units at an average density of 600.4 per square mile . The racial makeup of the city was 74.29% White,...

, Menomonie, Wisconsin
Menomonie, Wisconsin
Two other spellings of the name appear elsewhere, see Menomonee and Menominee. For the town, see Menomonie .Menomonie is a city in and the county seat of Dunn County in the western part of the U.S. state of Wisconsin. The city's population was 16,264 as of the 2010 census...

 and many lakes and streams bearing the name "Rice," "Wildrice," or "Wild Rice."

Because of its nutrition
Nutrition
Nutrition is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary to support life. Many common health problems can be prevented or alleviated with a healthy diet....

al value and taste, wild rice increased in popularity in the late 20th century, and commercial cultivation began in the US and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 to supply the increased demand. In the US the main producers are California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 and Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

 (where it is the official state grain) and it is mainly cultivated in paddy field
Paddy field
A paddy field is a flooded parcel of arable land used for growing rice and other semiaquatic crops. Paddy fields are a typical feature of rice farming in east, south and southeast Asia. Paddies can be built into steep hillsides as terraces and adjacent to depressed or steeply sloped features such...

s. In Canada, it is usually harvested from natural bodies of water; the largest producer is the province of Saskatchewan. Wild rice is also produced in Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 and Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

. In Hungary, cultivation started in 1974 on the rice field of Szarvas. The Indian Rice Ltd. was founded in 1990. Now, the Hungarian wild rice growing and processing is managed only by this company. In Australia production is controlled by Ricewild Pty. Ltd. at Deniliquin in Southern New South Wales.

Manchurian wild rice , gathered from the wild, was once an important grain in ancient China. Because of the difficulty of its domestication, it gradually lost importance with increasing population density, as its habitat was converted for use in raising rice. It is now very rare in the wild, and its use as a grain has completely disappeared in China, though it continues to be cultivated for its stems.

Nutrition and safety


Almost always sold as a dried whole grain
Whole grain
Whole grains are cereal grains that contain cereal germ, endosperm, and bran, in contrast to refined grains, which retain only the endosperm. Whole grains can generally be sprouted while refined grains generally will not sprout. Whole-meal products are made by grinding whole grains in order to make...

, wild rice is high in protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

, the amino acid
Amino acid
Amino acids are molecules containing an amine group, a carboxylic acid group and a side-chain that varies between different amino acids. The key elements of an amino acid are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen...

 lysine
Lysine
Lysine is an α-amino acid with the chemical formula HO2CCH4NH2. It is an essential amino acid, which means that the human body cannot synthesize it. Its codons are AAA and AAG....

 and dietary fiber
Dietary fiber
Dietary fiber, dietary fibre, or sometimes roughage is the indigestible portion of plant foods having two main components:* soluble fiber that is readily fermented in the colon into gases and physiologically active byproducts, and* insoluble fiber that is metabolically inert, absorbing water as it...

, and low in fat
Fat
Fats consist of a wide group of compounds that are generally soluble in organic solvents and generally insoluble in water. Chemically, fats are triglycerides, triesters of glycerol and any of several fatty acids. Fats may be either solid or liquid at room temperature, depending on their structure...

. Like true rice, it does not contain gluten
Gluten
Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye...

. It is also a good source of certain minerals and B vitamins. According to Self's online NutritionData, 1 cup of cooked wild rice would provide 5% or more of the daily value of thiamin, riboflavin, iron, and potassium; 10% or more of the daily value of niacin, b6, folate, magnesium, phosphorus; 15% of zinc; and over 20% of manganese.

Wild rice seeds can be infected by the highly toxic fungus ergot
Ergot
Ergot or ergot fungi refers to a group of fungi of the genus Claviceps. The most prominent member of this group is Claviceps purpurea. This fungus grows on rye and related plants, and produces alkaloids that can cause ergotism in humans and other mammals who consume grains contaminated with its...

, which is dangerous if eaten. Infected grains will have pink or purplish blotches or growths of the fungus, from the size of a seed to several times larger.

Stems



The swollen crisp white stems of Manchurian wild rice are grown as a vegetable
Vegetable
The noun vegetable usually means an edible plant or part of a plant other than a sweet fruit or seed. This typically means the leaf, stem, or root of a plant....

, popular in East
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

 and Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

. The swelling occurs because of infection with the smut fungus
Smut (fungus)
The smuts are multicellular fungi, that are characterized by their large numbers of teliospores. The smuts get their name from a Germanic word for dirt because of their dark, thick-walled and dust-like teliospores. They are mostly Ustilaginomycetes and can cause plant disease...

 Ustilago esculenta. The fungus prevents the plant from flowering, so the crop is propagated
Plant propagation
Plant propagation is the process of creating new plants from a variety of sources: seeds, cuttings, bulbs and other plant parts. Plant propagation can also refer to the artificial or natural dispersal of plants.-Sexual propagation :...

 asexually, the infection being passed from mother plant to daughter plant. Harvest
Harvest
Harvest is the process of gathering mature crops from the fields. Reaping is the cutting of grain or pulse for harvest, typically using a scythe, sickle, or reaper...

 must be made between about 120 days and 170 days after planting, after the stem begins to swell but before the infection reaches its reproductive stage, when the stem will begin to turn black
Black
Black is the color of objects that do not emit or reflect light in any part of the visible spectrum; they absorb all such frequencies of light...

 and eventually disintegrate.

The vegetable is especially common in China, where it is known as gaosun or jiaobai (茭白). Other names which may be used in English include coba and water bamboo.

Importation of the vegetable to the United States is prohibited in order to protect North American species from the fungus.

External links