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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin


(Zizania aquatica L.)

Wild rice

GRASS FAMILY (Gramineae or Poaceae)


FIELD CHARACTERISTICS: A robust, annual grass generally 2-3 m. in height. The inflorescence is a large panicle 1-6 dm. high. Spikelets have 1 flower and are unisexual. The pistillate spikelets are located in the upper portion of the inflorescence, while the staminate spikelets are located in the lower portion. The pistillate spikelets have a lemma with a long, bristle-like awn. Staminate spikelets are red or yellow. Leaves are 1-5 cm. wide and go through a floating stage prior to emergence. In flower from June to September.

ECOLOGICAL NOTES: Wild rice is a nonpersistent emergent found in, deep and shallow marshes, lakes, ponds, and streams. Optimum water depth is 1.5 to 3.0 feet, although it can be found in deeper waters. It grows best in clear, shallow water with a slight current over a silty to mucky bottom. Wild rice is an excellent waterfowl food and is often sown to grow stands for the benefit of wildlife. It has been widely planted, both within and outside its natural range, and is an important commercial crop in Minnesota. Ownbey and Morley (1991) apply the name Z. palustris L., with two varieties, for the wild rice found in Minnesota.

SOURCE: Fassett (1957); Gleason and Cronquist (1991); Ownbey and Morley (1991); and Voss (1972).

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