Wild Rice Provides a Fall Feast

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In late summer and early fall, Dyke Marsh’s wild rice (Zizania aquatica) is a shimmering panorama of green in the breeze.  It is a native, annual, emergent, light green grass with flower clusters on broom-like branches. Wild rice thrives in soft, muddy areas and can grow to eight to 10 feet tall.

wild riceIn the fall, when the plants collapse into the wetland, millions of rice seeds await resident and migratory waterfowl to feed on them. In the 1760s, Jonathan Carver, traveling through parts of eastern North America, wrote that “the sweetness and nutritious quality of it attracts an infinite number of wild fowl of every kind which flock from distant climes to enjoy this rare repast, and by it become inexpressively fat and delicious.” 

Stands of wild rice can stabilize shorelines and provide habitat for fish.  Wild rice is also food for other wildlife and for people.

Photos contributed by Glenda Booth

 

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