Overview

Brief Summary

The Chinese Water Chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis ) is a member of the sedge family (Cyperaceae) and should not be confused with the unrelated Water Chestnut (Trapa natans), which is a member of the family Lythraceae (and was formerly placed in the Trapaceae) (Graham et al. 2005). Chinese Water Chestnuts are cultivated in China, Taiwan, and Thailand in shallow marshes, lakes, and flooded fields. The edible "nut" is actually a tuber or corm which produces tubular leaves 1 to 2 m in height. New corms are formed at the ends of horizontal rhizomes. The corm contains 1.4% protein, 0.2% fat, and around 5.6% each of starch and sugars (sucrose, glucose, and fructose). The corms also contain vitamins B, C, and E, as well as phosphorus and potassium. Chinese Water Chestnuts are used in a wide range of stit-fried dishes, soups, dumplings, salads, and even desserts (including Water Chestnut cake) in Chinese and other Southeast Asian cuisines. The white corms have a slightly sweet flavor and a distinctive, crisp texture. They are exported fresh and canned from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan to the United States and Europe.

(Vaughan and Geissler 1997)

  • Graham, S.A., J. Hall, K. Sytsma, and S. Shi. 2005. Phylogenetic analysis of the Lythraceae based on four gene regions and morphology. International Journal of Plant Sciences 166(6): 995-1017.
  • Vaughan, J.G. and C.A. Geissler. 1997. The New Oxford Book of Food Plants (revised and updated edition). Oxford University Press, New York.
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Comprehensive Description

Brief

Flowering class: Monocot Habit: Herb
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Distribution

"
Global Distribution

Paleotropics

Indian distribution

State - Kerala, District/s: Kottayam, Alappuzha, Kasaragode, Kollam, Idukki, Kannur, Ernakulam

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Afriea, India, Indo-China, China, Japan, Malaysia, N. Australia.
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Distribution: Africa, India, S. China, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Australia, Pacific Islands; frequently cultivated.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Elevation Range

200 m
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Description

Perennial, forming small tufts, sterile stems to 140 cm. Rhizome short, emitting white stolons which end in a spherical, edible tuber. Stem 3-5 mm diam., terete, with conspicuous septae 2-5 cm apart, often with less pronounced septa between. Sheaths absent (in specimens studied). Spike 20-50 x 7-10 mm; two basal glumes green, lower almost completely clasping, upper opposite, smaller; glumes 6.5-8 mm, finally yellowish grey, cymbiform, with clear mid-nerve, other nerves obscure, margin scarious, c.0.5 mm wide, apex rounded. Perianth bristles 6-8, rigid, yellowish, c. equalling nut; stamens 3; stigmas 2 or 3. Nut 2-2.3 x 1.6-1.8 mm (without stylopodium), thickly bi-convex, spherical or obovoid, brown or yellow-brown, shiny, surface finely reticulate, with c. 0.5 mm stipe, apical annulus bordering style base; stylopodium c. 1 x 0.8 mm. conical, flat or shallowly trigonous, brown or dark brown, often with remains of whole style attached.
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

"Erect, tufted, rhizomatous perennials, 40-100 cm tall; rhizome short with long stolons, bearing brown to black, subglobose tubers; culms terete, transversely septate, shining green. Leaves reduced to bladeless sheaths; sheaths membranous, 5-10 cm long, purplish, mouth oblique. Inflorescence with a single spitelet. Spikelet as wide as the stem, 2-3 x 0.3-0.5 cm, cylindrical, terete, subobtuse, densely many-flowered; rachilla straight, wingless. Glumes spiral, 5-6 x 2-3 mm, obovate, obtuse, midrib prominent, narrow scarious margin at apex. Hypogynous bristles 6-8, much exceeding the style base, retrorsely scabrous brown. Stamens 3; anthers 2-3 mm, linear, apiculate. Style long; stigma 2-3. Nut 2-3 x 1-1.5 mm, obovate, biconvex."
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Synonym

Andropogon dulce Burm.f., Fl. Ind.: 219. 1768; E. plantaginea (Retz.) Roem. & Schult., Syst. Veg. 2: 150. 1817; C. B. Clarke, l.c. 625. 1893; Scirpus plantagineus Retz., Obs. Bot. 5: 14. 1789; Blake, Proc. Roy. Soc. Queensland 50: Pl. VIII, figs. 6-9. 1939. Tang & Wang, Fl. Reipubl. Pop. Sinicae 11: Pl. 18: figs. 1-5. 1961. Roxb., Pl. Coromandel, 3,25: Tab. 231. 1819.
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Ecology

Habitat

General Habitat

Marshy areas
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In shallow water, ponds etc.
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering and fruiting: September-October
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Flower/Fruit

Fl. Per.: September.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

Medicinal
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Wikipedia

Eleocharis dulcis

Waterchestnuts, chinese, (matai), raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy406 kJ (97 kcal)
Carbohydrates23.94 g
Sugars4.8 g
Dietary fiber3 g
Fat0.1 g
Protein1.4 g
Thiamine (vit. B1)0.14 mg (12%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2)0.2 mg (17%)
Niacin (vit. B3)1 mg (7%)
Pantothenic acid (B5)0.479 mg (10%)
Vitamin B60.328 mg (25%)
Folate (vit. B9)16 μg (4%)
Vitamin C4 mg (5%)
Vitamin E1.2 mg (8%)
Magnesium22 mg (6%)
Manganese0.331 mg (16%)
Phosphorus63 mg (9%)
Potassium584 mg (12%)
Zinc0.5 mg (5%)
Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated
using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

The Chinese water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis; synonyms E. equisetina, E. indica, E. plantaginea, E. plantaginoides, E. tuberosa, E. tumida), more often called simply the water chestnut, is a grass-like sedge grown for its edible corms. The water chestnut is actually not a nut at all, but an aquatic vegetable that grows in marshes, underwater in the mud. It has tube-shaped, leafless green stems that grow to about 1.5 metres. The water caltrop, which is also referred to by the same name, is unrelated and often confused with the water chestnut.

The small, rounded corms have a crisp white flesh and can be eaten raw, slightly boiled, or grilled, and are often pickled or tinned. They are a popular ingredient in Chinese dishes. In China, they are most often eaten raw, sometimes sweetened. They can also be ground into a flour form used for making water chestnut cake, which is common as part of dim sum cuisine. They are unusual among vegetables for remaining crisp even after being cooked or canned, because their cell walls are cross-linked and strengthened by certain phenolic compounds, like oligomers of ferulic acid.[1] This property is shared by other vegetables that remain crisp in this manner, including the tiger nut and lotus root.[2]

The corms are rich in carbohydrates (about 90 percent by dry weight), especially starch (about 60 percent by dry weight), and are also a good source of dietary fiber, riboflavin, vitamin B6, potassium, copper, and manganese.[3]

If eaten uncooked, the surface of the plants can transmit Fasciolopsiasis.[4]

Taste[edit]

Raw water chestnuts are slightly sweet and very crunchy. Boiled water chestnuts have a firm and slightly crunchy texture, with a flavor that is very mild and slightly nutty, so it can be easily overpowered by any seasonings or sauces with which the water chestnut is served or cooked. Water chestnuts are often combined with bamboo shoots, coriander, ginger, sesame oil, and snow peas. They are often used in noodle or rice dishes.[5]

Nomenclature[edit]

The Chinese water chestnut (traditional Chinese: 荸薺; simplified Chinese: 荸荠; hanyu pinyin: bíqi, 馬蹄; pinyin:mǎtí) is native to China and is widely cultivated in flooded paddy fields in southern China and parts of the Philippines. In Vietnam, it is called củ mã thầy (in the North) and củ năng (in the South) and is the main ingredient of bánh củ năng hấp, chè mã thầy. In Thailand it is called somwang (สมหวัง) and it is often used in dessert as tabtim krob (ทับทิมกรอบ). In India it is commonly known as Singhada, shingada or singoda.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Phenolics and phenolic-polysaccharide linkages in Chinese water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis) cell walls. Grassby Terri, Doctoral thesis, 2008, University of East Anglia (link)
  2. ^ McGee, Harold (2004). On Food and Cooking (Revised Edition). Scribner. p. 308. ISBN 0-684-80001-2. 
  3. ^ "Waterchestnuts, chinese, (matai), raw". NutritionData.com. CondéNet, Inc. Retrieved 2007-12-31. 
  4. ^ Fasciolopslasis--a re-emerging infection in Azamgarh (Uttar Pradesh). Bhatti HS, Malla N, Mahajan RC, Sehgal R. Indian J Pathol Microbiol. 2000 Jan;43(1):73-6. PMID: 12583425
  5. ^ Green, Aliza (2004). Field Guide to Produce. Quirk Productions. p. 284. ISBN 1-931686-80-7. 
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Notes

Comments

"Chinese water-chestnut" was, probably, formerly cultivated in Pakistan. Formal taxonomic rank sometimes given to cultivated races is based on E. tuberosa Schultes, Mantissa 2: 86. 1824. Schultes refers to Roxburgh, Fl. Indica (1820) [= Scirpus tuberosus Roxburgh, Hort. Bengal. 6. 1814 nom. nudum?, non Desf. 1798.
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