[Chún cài (China); Junsai (Japan);
Annonaceae of family Cabombaceae]
This water plant is native to North America, northern South America,
East Asia and India. Flowering is interesting. On the first day the
flower stalks extend out of the water bearing female flowers. At the
end of the day the stalk withdraws, and on the following day it
extends again with male flowers. This plant is cultivated in China,
and is used in the popular Hangzhou dish "West Lake Water Shield Soup".
Photo by USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database = Public Domain
Water Lily - [genus
Nymphaea (more than 35 species) of family Nymphaeaceae]
Water lilies are native to the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and
Australia. While some are called "Lotus", they are not at all related
to the true Lotus (genus
Nelumbo). The two are actually easy to tell apart. Water lily
leaves float on the surface and generally have a deep notch, usually
extending in to the leaf stem. Lotus leaves are held above the water
and are completely circular with a central stem (no notch). Lotus also
has a wide conical seed capsule often seen in dried flower
Young leaves and flower buds can be cooked and eaten. The seeds
are nutritious, high in starch, protein and oil. They can be roasted
and popped, or ground into flour.
The Egyptian Blue Water Lily (Egyptian Blue Lotus; Nymphaea
caerulea) flowers have a lightly psychoactive effect, mainly as
a sedative. Petals and whole flowers of this plant are used to make
teas and to flavor wine and martinis. One species, Nymphaea
odorata subsp. tuberosa, native to the southeastern United
States, produces potato-like tubers which can be cooked and eaten.
Photo © i0137
Foxnut - [Gorgon Nut;
Makhana (Hindi/Punjabi); Makhana, Nikori (Assam); Onibas, Onibasu
(Japan); Euryale ferox of family Nymphaeaceae]
Seeds of this plant have been used as human food since at least
750,000 years ago. They are currently an important crop in India and
China, and also used in Korea, Japan and the Russian Far East. The
pads, which can grow to more than 3 feet across, are green and spiky
on top, purple on the bottom.
In northern India, the seeds are collected in the late summer and
early autumn. They may be eaten raw or cooked, and are often roasted
and popped for use as a snack. They may be ground into flour used to
make a porridge called makhane ki kheer which is often
presented as a religious offering. In China the seeds are used in
medicinal soups which are supposed to improve male potency and
retard aging. In India, a technique for growing this plant as a field
crop has recently been developed.
photo by Montilre distributed under license Creative
Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported.
[Victoria amazonica, Victoria cruziana,
Native to South American river basins, these water lily have
striking rimmed floating leaves sometimes exceeding 9 feet across.
V. amzonica is native to the Amazon basin of Brazil and the
only slightly smaller V. cruziana is native to the
Paraná river basin of Paraguay. V. mattogrossensis is
almost identical to V. cruziana but has larger seeds and lives
in the Pantanal wetlands of central South America. I have not seen
any references to using the seeds as food, but know of no evidence
that they haven't been. These plants are very popular in botanical
Photo © i0136