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Wild Rice (Zizania) Anatomy

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Zizanias are very vigorous plants. They are grasses of various heights, with hollow spongy stems, long flat monocot leaves, and a large branching panicle that is often the only part above the water, with female flower at the top and male flowers below (7, 11, 12, 13, 17, 21, 22).

Zizania palustris
Photo by Claire Hebbard, Gramene
Zizania aquatica

Photo courtesy Steve Hurst @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
  1. Z. palustris is the large seeded wild rice commonly found in grocery stores (11). Heights of cultivated stands reach 5-6 feet, are anchored by a shallow root system and generally sport 3-6 tillers topped with 16 inch panicles bearing grains .3-.8 inches long (7, 11, 12, 13, 21). Non-cultivated plants may bear up to 50 tillers (13). Mature seeds turn purplish-black.
  2. Z. aquatica's yellow to reddish seeds are more slender than those of Z. palustris, and are not harvested for food (11), although the grains are edible (17).
  3. Z. texana has slender black or brown seeds and long green leaves up to 4 feet long and 1 inch wide (15).
  4. Z. latifolia plants grow from 3-7 feet in height and have leaves 1-2 feet long (24). According to the Waikato Regional Council (20), Z. latifolia is an invasive plant in New Zealand and can achieve heights of 12 feet.

For in-depth information on Zizania anatomy, check out the following resources from our bibliography: For more information on anatomy, see also:

Zizania aquatica
Image courtesy Larry Allain @

Zizania palustrus
2005 Louis-M. Landry
(courtesy of CalPhotos)

Zizania texana
Photo courtesy Texas Parks
and Wildlife Department (15)
2006 Paul M. Montgomery


  1. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. 2003. Plant Gene Resources of Canada., accessed 5/23/06.
  2. Bois Forte Reservation Tribal Council. 1998. Wild Rice Sales and General Information. Bois Forte Band of Chippewa, Deptartment of Natural Resources.
  3. California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations A Dictionary of Botanical Etymology. 2003-2005 Compiled by Michael L. Charters. , accessed 5/23/06.
  4. California Wild Rice Advisory Board. 2006. Wild Rice Facts., accessed 5/23/06.
  5. California Wild Rice Growers Association. What is wild rice?, accessed 5/23/06.
  6. Christmas Point Wild Rice Company. 2000-2005. About Wild Rice., accessed 5/23/06.
  7. Clayton, W.D., Harman, K.T. and Williamson, H. (2002 onwards). World Grass Species: Descriptions, Identification, and Information Retrieval. [accessed 28 March 2006].
  8. Erickson, S. 7/16/96. Wild Rice Production Process, accessed 5/23/06.
  9. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). 2006. Retrieved May 23, 2006, from the Integrated Taxonomic Information System on-line database,
  10. Nelson, J. 2000. Crop Profile for Wild Rice in Minnesota. Minnesota Pesticide Impact Assessment Program (PIAP). From USDA - NSF Center for Integrated Pest Management. North Carolina State University.
  11. Oelke, E.A. 1993. Wild rice: Domestication of a native North American genus. p. 235-243. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), New crops. Wiley, New York.
  12. Oelke, E.; Teynor,T.; Carter, P.; Percich, J.; Noetzel,D.; Bloom,P.; Porter,R.; Schertz, C.; Boedicker,J.; and Fuller, E. Zizania aquatica L. January 9, 1998.
  13. E.A. Oelke, T.M. Teynor, P.R. Carter, J.A. Percich, D.M. Noetzel, P.R. Bloom, R.A. Porter, C.E. Schertz, J.J. Boedicker, and E.I. Fuller. Wild Rice. Wisconsin Corn Agronomy., accessed 5/23/06.
  14. Small, E. 1999. New crops for Canadian agriculture. p. 15-52. Wild Rice (Zizania palustris L). In: J. Janick (ed.), Perspectives on new crops and new uses. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA.
  15. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. 2006. Texas Wild-rice (Zizania texana)., accessed 5.23.06.
  16. 1854 Tribal Treaty Authority (2006). "Biology of Wild Rice.", accessed 5/23/06.
  17. University of Florida. 1998. Zizania aquatica, Aquatic Plant Information Retrieval System. Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants.
  18. US Fish and Wildlife Service. 2006. Wild-rice, Texas., accessed 5/23/06.
  19. USDA, NRCS. 2006. The PLANTS Database, 6 March 2006 ( Data compiled from various sources by Mark W. Skinner. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
  20. Waikato Regional Council. 1999-2006. Regional Pest Management Strategy 2002-2007, Section 5 - Plant Pests. Environment Waikato.
  21. Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 1992 onward. The grass genera of the world: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval; including synonyms, morphology, anatomy, physiology, phytochemistry, cytology, classification, pathogens, world and local distribution, and references. Version: 28th November 2005.
  22. Wikipedia contributors (2006). Wild Rice. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 23, 2006.
  23. Wild Rice Nation. 2006. Wild Rice Farming.
  24. Yamaguchi, M. 1990. Asian vegetables. p. 387-390. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), Advances in new crops. Timber Press, Portland, OR. found at