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Trapa natans - L.
Common Name Water Chestnut
Family Trapaceae
USDA hardiness 6-12
Known Hazards The raw seed contains toxins but that these are destroyed in the cooking process[200, 206].
Habitats Water up to 60cm deep.
Range Europe to E. Asia, Indo-China and N. Africa.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Water Plants Full sun


Trapa natans Water Chestnut

Trapa natans Water Chestnut
Physical Characteristics
Trapa natans is a PERENNIAL.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in flower from Jun to July. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It can grow in water.


Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Seed.
Edible Uses:

Seed - raw, cooked or dried and ground into a powder[2, 3, 13, 34, 56, 63, 74, 100]. A sweet floury and agreeable flavour[27], similar to sweet chestnuts (Castanea spp)[183]. The seed contains up to 50% starch according to one report[46], 16% starch, 3% protein in another report[117] and 15% protein, 7.5% fat in a third[74]. (Are all these reports talking about the same thing?). One report says that the raw nut contains toxins that are destroyed by cooking the seed[200].
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known


Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details
A water plant, growing in water up to 60cm deep. Requires a sunny position in slightly acidic water[200]. Dislikes calcium rich water[50]. Prefers a rich soil[50, 56, 200]. Plants are hardy in all but the coldest parts of Britain[1]. A perennial, but it is best grown as an annual in Britain[3]. Some botanists regard this species as the only genuine member of the genus, all other species considered to be no more than a part of this one highly polymorphic species[200]. Occasionally cultivated for its edible seed, there is at least one named variety[1, 3, 13]. 'Su Zhou' is a form with red-coloured fruit[183].
Seed - harvest in late summer and store overwinter in a jar of water in a cold but frost-free place. The seed quickly loses its vitality if it is allowed to become dry. Sow in spring, placing one seed in each pot and submerging them under a few centimetres of water.
Other Names
Dyavolski oreh, European water chestnut, Heikak, Horn nut, Ling-chio, Rasac, Saligot, Shinghada, bat nut, buffalo nut, charcoal tree|diya ikili / ikiliya, devil pod, gara, gaunaree, horn nut, jalaphala, jalaphalam, jalfal, karimpola, karimpolam, kubyakam, paniphal, paniphala, shingoda, simgara, simgoda, singada, singade, singhada, singhade, singhara, singoda, srngataka, triko?aphala, vankotta, water caltrop, water chestnut, sr?gata, s??ga?aka (dried seed).
Found In
Africa, Albania, Algeria, Asia, Australia, Austria, Balkans, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Burma, China, Czech, East Africa, Europe, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, North Africa, North America, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, SE Asia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, West Africa, Yugoslavia,
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Least Concern
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Centaurea calcitrapaCommon Star Thistle, Red star-thistle11
Tetrapanax papyriferRice Paper Plant, Chinese Rice Paper Plant11
Trapa bicornisLing, Horn nut41
Trapa incisa 10
Trapa japonica 10


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Expert comment
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.
Readers comment
michele   Sun Mar 4 2007
i would like to have the seeds of tis plant. how is it possible? thnaks michele micvite@tin.it
Ken Fern, Plants for a Future.   Mon Mar 5 2007
Unfortunately, the seeds of this plant need to be kept moist otherwise they quickly lose their viability. For this reason, there are no seed suppliers that I am aware of. There are a few nurseries that supply the plant - the only one I know of is in Britain, though it does mail order to all countries in the European Union. For details of this nursery visit the Plant Finder at http://www.rhs.org.uk/RHSPlantFinder/plantfinder.asp
HK   Tue Jan 29 2008
I am not sure about the criteria, but I really think you guys need somebody who is familiar with TCM, Kampo or whatever. Just because you guys don't know does not mean that a given species does not have any notable medicinal property or importance in indigenous medicine. I just keep encountering this over and over here.
Keith   Mon Aug 11 2008
Also can be highly opportunistic (ie. 'invasive')- http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080805/NEWS01/80804013

Burlington Free Press Article Article about efforts 'combating' water chestnut

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Subject : Trapa natans  

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