water chestnut(redirected from Chinese water chestnuts)
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water chestnut:see sedgesedge,
common name for members of the Cyperaceae, a family of grasslike and rushlike herbs found in all parts of the world, especially in marshes of subarctic and temperate zones.
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horned nut, water caltrop, water chestnut, devil’s nut (Trapa), a species of plants of the water chestnut family; annual water grasses. The solid leaves are filamentary and fall early; they develop on underwater stems that grow in bunches. The stems also send out, on threadlike extensions, organs that have photo synthetic functions. Apparently these are modified stipules, although they are frequently taken for roots. The real roots, which develop in several nodes, attach the plant to the substrata. The stem forms a rosette of diamond-shaped leaves floating on the sur-face, with rounded, swollen stalks of various lengths. The fruit is round and textured (“nutlike”) with four or, more rarely, two hornlike projections. There are about 15 species that take many forms thought to be separate varieties (in which case some 30-50 living species and up to 100 including fossils have been found).
Water chestnuts are found sporadically, and at times in large quantities, in Eurasia and Africa; they usually occur in small bodies of fresh water with stagnant or slowly moving water. In the USSR, they grow in the lower reaches of the Volga, Dnieper, Bug, and Dniester rivers, in the Far East, and in Siberia and the Caucasus. The fruit is used for human and animal food.
REFERENCEVasiFev, V. N. Vodianoi orekh i perspektivy ego kul’tury v SSSR. Moscow-Leningrad, 1960.
M. E. KIRPICHNIKOV