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Wild Rice

Zizania aquatica

Wild rice forms colonies in tidal and non-tidal freshwater marshes. (Virginia Native Plant Society Pocahontas Chapter)
Wild rice forms colonies in tidal and non-tidal freshwater marshes. (Virginia Native Plant Society Pocahontas Chapter)

Wild rice is a native annual grass with feathery flowers on top of a tall, round stem. It grows in freshwater marshes throughout the Chesapeake Bay region.

Appearance:

  • Round, hollow, upright stem
  • Flower head with two sections: a feathery, upright female flower at the top of the stem and dangling male flowers on branches just below
  • Flowers bloom in June-August
  • Long, flat leaves with rough, toothed edges. Leaves can grow up to 16 inches long and 2 inches wide.
  • Long, ribbon-like underwater leaves on immature plants
  • Grows to 10 feet tall

Habitat:

  • Found in tidal and non-tidal freshwater marshes and along streams
  • Grows in shallow water
  • Forms colonies

Range:

  • Grows in the upper parts of tributaries such as the Choptank, Patuxent, Potomac and York rivers

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • Spreads by seeds only
  • After blooming, female flower matures into a seed head full of rice grains
  • New seedlings grow in spring

Other Facts:

  • An important source of food for birds, including waterfowland red-winged blackbirds
  • Rice grain is edible

Sources and Additional Information:




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