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Useful Tropical Plants

Trapa natans

L.

Lythraceae


Some botanists regard this species as the only genuine member of the genus, with all other species considered to be no more than a part of this one highly polymorphic species[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

+ Synonyms

Trapa bispinosa Roxb.

Trapa japonica Flerow.

Common Name: Water Chestnut

Trapa natans
Leaves
Photograph by: Kurt Stüber
Creative Commons License
Trapa natans Trapa natans Trapa natans Trapa natans Trapa natans Trapa natans

General Information

The water chestnut is an annual aquatic herb with a rosette of floating leaves and submerged, paired but not opposite, pinnatisect and leaf-like adventitious roots[
324
Title
Edible Nuts.
Publication
Non-Wood Forest Products, Handbook 5
Author
Wickens G.E.
Website
http://www.fao.org/docrep/
Publisher
FAO, Rome.
Year
1995
ISBN
92-5-103748-5
Description
Detailed information on 20 of the most valuable nut crops, plus more basic information on a wide range of other nut-producing plants. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. The plant can be free-floating in the water, or rooting in the mud in shallow water. It is also able to grow out of water in very wet, muddy soils[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Its use as a food crop has greatly declined in recent times in Europe, but it is an important crop in many parts of Asia where it is widely cultivated for its edible seeds[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
]. The plant is also grown as an ornamental in aquaria and outdoor ponds.

Known Hazards

The raw seed contains toxins but that these are destroyed in the cooking process[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
206
Title
Oriental Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom J.
Publisher
John Murray
Year
1991
ISBN
0-7195-4781-4
Description
Well written and very informative.
].

Botanical References

50
Title
Flora Europaea
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1964
ISBN
-
Description
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for Europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.

Range

Europe to E. Asia, Indo-China and N. Africa.

Habitat

Slow-moving rivers, lakes, swamps and ponds from near sea level to 2,700 metres[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
]. Water up to 60cm deep.

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitPerennial
Height0.00 m
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of the temperate to tropical zones, where it is found at elevations up to 1,500 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 15 - 25°c, but can tolerate 10 - 35°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -25°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at 0°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 500 - 1,200mm, but tolerates 300 - 1,600mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
A water plant, growing in water up to 60cm deep. Requires a sunny position in slightly acidic water[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Dislikes calcium rich water[
50
Title
Flora Europaea
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1964
ISBN
-
Description
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for Europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
]. Prefers a rich soil[
50
Title
Flora Europaea
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1964
ISBN
-
Description
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for Europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
,
56
Title
Complete Guide to Water Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Muhlberg. H.
Publisher
E. P. Publishing Ltd.
Year
1982
ISBN
0-7158-0789-7
Description
Deals with a wide range of plants for temperate areas (and indoor aquaria) with quite a lot of information on cultivation techniques.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7.5, tolerating 5 - 8.2[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
There are some named varieties[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
,
324
Title
Edible Nuts.
Publication
Non-Wood Forest Products, Handbook 5
Author
Wickens G.E.
Website
http://www.fao.org/docrep/
Publisher
FAO, Rome.
Year
1995
ISBN
92-5-103748-5
Description
Detailed information on 20 of the most valuable nut crops, plus more basic information on a wide range of other nut-producing plants. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
In India, the fruit is broadcast in 30 - 69 cm deep nursery ponds and pressed into the mud, transplanted at the 4 - 5 leaf stage and replanted when 4 - 5 months old. Lateral pruning is carried out to accelerate flowering and fruiting[
324
Title
Edible Nuts.
Publication
Non-Wood Forest Products, Handbook 5
Author
Wickens G.E.
Website
http://www.fao.org/docrep/
Publisher
FAO, Rome.
Year
1995
ISBN
92-5-103748-5
Description
Detailed information on 20 of the most valuable nut crops, plus more basic information on a wide range of other nut-producing plants. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. In China, the water chestnut is cultivated in running water[
324
Title
Edible Nuts.
Publication
Non-Wood Forest Products, Handbook 5
Author
Wickens G.E.
Website
http://www.fao.org/docrep/
Publisher
FAO, Rome.
Year
1995
ISBN
92-5-103748-5
Description
Detailed information on 20 of the most valuable nut crops, plus more basic information on a wide range of other nut-producing plants. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Edible Uses

Seed - raw, cooked or dried and ground into a powder[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
3
Title
Growing Unusual Fruit.
Publication
 
Author
Simmons. A. E.
Publisher
David & Charles; Newton Abbot.
Year
1972
ISBN
0-7153-5531-7
Description
A very readable book with information on about 100 species that can be grown in Britain (some in greenhouses) and details on how to grow and use them.
,
13
Title
Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Triska. Dr.
Publisher
Hamlyn
Year
1975
ISBN
0-600-33545-3
Description
Very interesting reading, giving some details of plant uses and quite a lot of folk-lore.
,
34
Title
The Oxford Book of Food Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Harrison. S. Wallis. M. Masefield. G.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1975
ISBN
-
Description
Good drawings of some of the more common food plants from around the world. Not much information though.
,
56
Title
Complete Guide to Water Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Muhlberg. H.
Publisher
E. P. Publishing Ltd.
Year
1982
ISBN
0-7158-0789-7
Description
Deals with a wide range of plants for temperate areas (and indoor aquaria) with quite a lot of information on cultivation techniques.
,
63
Title
Nuts.
Publication
 
Author
Howes. F. N.
Publisher
Faber
Year
1948
ISBN
-
Description
Rather old but still a masterpiece. Has sections on tropical and temperate plants with edible nuts plus a section on nut plants in Britain. Very readable.
,
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
,
100
Title
Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1969
ISBN
0192176218
Description
An excellent and well illustrated pocket guide for those with very large pockets. Also gives some details on plant uses.
]. A sweet floury and agreeable flavour[
27
Title
The Vegetable Garden.
Publication
 
Author
Vilmorin. A.
Publisher
Ten Speed Press
Year
 
ISBN
0-89815-041-8
Description
A reprint of a nineteenth century classic, giving details of vegetable varieties. Not really that informative though.
], similar to sweet chestnuts (Castanea spp)[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. The seed contains up to 50% starch according to one report[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
], 16% starch, 3% protein in another report[
117
Title
The Book of Edible Nuts.
Publication
 
Author
Rosengarten. jnr. F.
Publisher
Walker & Co.
Year
1984
ISBN
0802707699
Description
A very readable and comprehensive guide. Well illustrated.
] and 15% protein, 7.5% fat in a third[
74
Title
Flora of the USSR.
Publication
 
Author
Komarov. V. L.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Israel Program for Scientific Translation
Year
1968
ISBN
-
Description
An immense (25 or more large volumes) and not yet completed translation of the Russian flora. Full of information on plant uses and habitats but heavy going for casual readers. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. (Are all these reports talking about the same thing?). One report says that the raw nut contains toxins that are destroyed by cooking the seed[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Medicinal

The fruits are used in the preparation of liniments to treat elephantiasis, pestilent fevers, rheumatism, sores, sunburn and skin complaints[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Other Uses

The seeds are sometimes used as beads in necklaces and rosaries[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
324
Title
Edible Nuts.
Publication
Non-Wood Forest Products, Handbook 5
Author
Wickens G.E.
Website
http://www.fao.org/docrep/
Publisher
FAO, Rome.
Year
1995
ISBN
92-5-103748-5
Description
Detailed information on 20 of the most valuable nut crops, plus more basic information on a wide range of other nut-producing plants. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Propagation

Seed - harvest in late summer and store overwinter in a jar of water in a cold but frost-free place. The seed quickly loses its vitality if it is allowed to become dry. Sow in spring, placing one seed in each pot and submerging them under a few centimetres of water.

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