Water nut – water nut

Water nut (Trapa natans); marsh nuts, fin nuts, alder, water sedge, sedge, sedge, chilym, devil’s nut; family of water nuts (Tgaraseae); water walnut


The species name of this plant comes from the Latin word “cornflower”. Apparently, the shoots of the water nut reminded its first describer of a throwing horn, which the ancient Romans used against enemy cavalry.

It is a herbaceous annual (perennial according to some researchers). Its floating stem is attached to the bottom of the pond by last year’s nut and thin brown roots. When the water level in the reservoir rises, the plant can separate from the soil and float freely. On the shallows, thanks to its horned predecessor, it is fixed and rooted. Then, in a rather complicated way, the nut forms photosynthetic organs in the form of rosettes of rhombic jagged leaves that somewhat resemble birch leaves. The flowers are four-parted, with white, sometimes pink petals, 8-10 mm in diameter. The fruits of the plant are one-seeded, drupe-like. It is widespread in Europe, America, Africa and Asia, and grows in separate groups.

The water nut has been known since ancient times for its nutritional properties — its tasty kernel contains up to 50% starch. This is one of the few wild edible plants that are complete in their composition. The fruits taste like boiled chestnuts.

In Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, water walnut flour was used to bake bread. It was also eaten by the inhabitants of medieval Europe. The plant has long been grown in South Asia, especially in India, Japan, and China, and it often saved the population of these countries from starvation.

In Central Africa, on Lake Nyasa, up to 600 kg of pure walnut kernels are collected from 1 hectare. Local residents use it baked and boiled. Dry kernels are crushed, processed into groats and flour. In a mixture with wheat flour, a complete raw material for baking bread is obtained, enriched with microelements.

In Russia, unfortunately, water walnut is not only not popular, but also close to extinction. There are many reasons for this: there are practically no clean bodies of water suitable for the growth of the plant, besides, no one is engaged in its cultivation. Although earlier in all places where nuts were found, they were widely used for food, they were eaten raw, baked, boiled, ground into groats and flour.

In most countries of South and Southeast Asia, as well as America, water nut is a popular food crop. Apparently, the time has come for its revival here too!

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