Chinese Water Chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis)



The Chinese water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis) is an edible corm. It is available in two forms. The wild one abounds in the fresh, brackish and saline waters of southern Asia and much of Oceania. The other is the cultivated, larger, sweeter and juicier version that originates from China and is widely cultivated commercially. The round, brown-skinned corms have a flat top and base that reveals their bright white flesh when peeled. The Chinese water chestnut should not be confused with the horned water caltrop (Trapa bicornis), which is also known in the West as water chestnut.1

Origins and distribution
The Chinese water chestnut plant is native to eastern Asia, and grows wild in China, Indonesia and Australia. It is commonly grown in the tropical, subtropical, and warm-temperate wetlands of Madagascar, central Africa, India, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indo-China, Malaysia, southern United States of America, and the Pacific islands. The cultivated form of the plant became known to Europeans only in the 17th century.2


Description and usage
The Chinese water chestnut plant grows in shallow water. It is a perennial reed-like plant, with long and thin hollow leaves. The edible part is the corm, which develops underwater. The corms look like horses’ hooves, hence its Chinese name ma ti, “horses’ hooves” in Chinese.3


Chinese water chestnuts can be eaten either raw or cooked. They are often finely diced and added to stuffings, mainly for their crisp texture. The flavour is somewhat sweet, hence the botanical description, dulcis.4


Popular primarily with Chinese and Thai cooks, Chinese water chestnuts are found in markets throughout Southeast Asian cities.5

Variant names6
Common name: Chinese water chestnut

Scientific name: Eleocharis dulcis
Chinese: ma ti
Vietnamese: ma thay

Filipino: apulid
Indonesian: chikai, dekeng or tekee



Author

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja



References
1. Larkcom, J. (2007). Oriental vegetables: The complete guide for the gardening cook. London: Frances Lincoln, pp. 127–128, 217. (Call no.: R 635.04 LAR); Hutton, W. (1996). Tropical vegetables of Malaysia & Singapore. Hong Kong: Periplus Editions, p. 54. (Call no.: RSING 635 HUT); Morton, J. F., Sanchez, C. A., & Snyder, G. H. (1988). Chinese waterchestnuts in Florida – past, present, and future. Florida State Horticultural Society, 101, 139–144, pp. 139–144. Retrieved 2017, September 1 from Florida State Horticultural Society website: http://fshs.org/proceedings-o/1988-vol-101/139-144%20(MORTON).pdf
2. Morton, J. F., Sanchez, C. A., & Snyder, G. H. (1988). Chinese waterchestnuts in Florida – past, present, and future. Florida State Horticultural Society, 101, 139–144, p. 140. Retrieved 2017, September 1 from Florida State Horticultural Society website: http://fshs.org/proceedings-o/1988-vol-101/139-144%20(MORTON).pdf
3. Larkcom, J. (2007). Oriental vegetables: The complete guide for the gardening cook. London: Frances Lincoln, pp. 127–128, 217. (Call no.: R 635.04 LAR); Morton, J. F., Sanchez, C. A., & Snyder, G. H. (1988). Chinese waterchestnuts in Florida – past, present, and future. Florida State Horticultural Society, 101, 139–144, pp. 139–144. Retrieved 2017, September 1 from Florida State Horticultural Society website: http://fshs.org/proceedings-o/1988-vol-101/139-144%20(MORTON).pdf
4. Hutton, W. (1996). Tropical vegetables of Malaysia & Singapore. Hong Kong: Periplus Editions, p. 54. (Call no.: RSING 635 HUT).
5. Hutton, W. (1996). Tropical vegetables of Malaysia & Singapore. Hong Kong: Periplus Editions, p. 54. (Call no.: RSING 635 HUT).
6. Larkcom, J. (2007). Oriental vegetables: The complete guide for the gardening cook. London: Frances Lincoln, pp. 127–128, 217. (Call no.: R 635.04 LAR); Morton, J. F., Sanchez, C. A., & Snyder, G. H. (1988). Chinese waterchestnuts in Florida – past, present, and future. Florida State Horticultural Society, 101, 139–144, p. 139. Retrieved 2017, September 1 from Florida State Horticultural Society website: http://fshs.org/proceedings-o/1988-vol-101/139-144%20(MORTON).pdf



The information in this article is valid as at 22 November 2017 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Chinese water chestnut--Southeast Asia
Science and technology>>Agriculture>>Plant crops
Plants
Nature>>Plants