Sunday, August 29, 2010

Zizania Aquatica, Wild Rice

This morning, I joined a group of esteemed Botanists- Dan Boone, Jim Decker, Brian Riley and Jim McCormac on an exciting expedition near Bellfountaine, Ohio.  Along the way, we stopped to see a Zizania aquatica population discovered by my botanical sensei, Rick Gardner, a few years ago.  This state threatened grass grows right in the clear water of the silt bottomed Little Darby Creek.  I've looked for this plant in the Lake Erie Marshes for quite some time, but I've never found it.  It was once common along the coast, but now it's mostly gone due to anthropogenic changes in the Lake Erie ecosystem.  I'm glad that I got to see and photograph it today near Plain City.


I've also posted this at "Ohio Flora", a new blog all about Ohio's native and naturalized plants.


  1. I know it isn't the same but the seed looks almost like some grass I have here, Tom. It is pretty. The birds, mostly sparrows, are eating lots of the decorative grass seeds now too.

    I wonder if these clumps of grass you buy at Lowes are hammered with radiation to kill the seeds from germination. I heard they used to do that with Niger thistle seed. Any truth to these tales?

  2. As far as the clumps from Lowe's, I doubt it. I only wish they were, because some grasses that have been planted for ornamental purposes escape and become really bad weeds. With the niger seed- it looks like the seed is sterilized to kill weed seeds that also may be in it: I copy this from Wikipedia:

    In 1982 the USDA ordered that imported niger seed must be heat sterilized to kill the contaminant dodder seed. This treatment, however, was insufficient to kill seeds of other Federal noxious weeds, including Asphodelius fistulosus Linnaeus (onion weed), Digitaria spp. (includes African couchgrass), Oryza spp. (red rice), Paspalum scrobiculatum Linnaeus (kodo millet), Prosopis spp. (includes mesquites), Solanum viarum Dunal (tropical soda apple), Striga spp. (witchweed), and Urochloa panicoides Beauvois (liver-seed grass). In 2001 a new treatment required that imported niger seed must be heat treated at 248 deg. F (120 deg. C) for 15 minutes.