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Fields, Forests & Wetlands Foods of Eastern North America

A Complete Wild Food Guide

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Season: August & September


Urban, Rural or Both: Rural


There are two species of Wild Rice in Eastern North America: Northern Wildrice (Zizania palustris) and Annual Wildrice (Zizania aquatica). I have to be honest and say I can't really figure out what the difference is between the two. I will treat them as if they are the same plant, and for the purposes of this book, that makes the most sense.

I hate to say it, but I've only gathered a tiny amount of Wild Rice in the wild. Any time I've seen it ready to harvest, it was out of reach and I didn't have a boat. One time I saw a patch of it that must have been 10 acres or more in size in perfectly clean water in Central Ontario. It drove me nuts not being able to get at some of it.

Luckily, it is available in many stores. It is expensive, but mixed with standard brown rice at a 10 to 20% mix and cook as per instructions for the brown rice works very well, and makes a great base for putting cooked vegetables on.

If you do find some in the wild in clean water, it is ripe, and you have a boat, here are the basic instructions. I've read other ways, so if you find enough to gather, do more research. You have to be very careful of what is known as "shattering". That is when you lightly touch the plant and the rice falls off into the water. It is so easy to do when the grain is ripe that you are best off doing the harvesting when the grain is almost ripe. However, a real problem with getting the timing right is the plants do not all ripen at the same time.


Description:


Northern Wildrice Zizania palustris range. Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies.


Annual Wildrice (Zizania aquatica) range. Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies.





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Important Notes when Identifying
Rules & Cautions
Dangerous Plants to Avoid Touching
Disclaimer


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