wild rice

wild rice

wild rice, tall aquatic plant (Zizania aquatica) of the family Gramineae (grass family), of a genus separate from common rice (Oryza). Wild rice (called also Canada rice, Indian rice, and water oats) is a hardy annual with broad blades, reedy stems, and large terminal panicles. It grows best in shallow water along the margins of ponds or lakes in the N United States and S Canada; certain varieties grow also in the Southern states. Strains have been developed since the 1970s that are amenable to mechanized cultivation.

The seeds were one of the chief foods of certain Native American tribes, especially in the Great Lakes region. Native Americans of the Algonquian linguistic family, especially the Ojibwa and Menominee, and certain Sioux warred for centuries for control of the wild-rice fields. The Ojibwa called the grain manomin [good berry], and the Menominee are believed to have been named for a variant of this word; it is said to have some 60 synonyms, from which a great number of geographical names have been taken.

Native Americans gathered the seeds by pulling the grain heads over their canoes and flailing them with paddles. The seeds were sun-dried or parched over a slow fire to crack the hulls, then the grain was threshed by tramping, and winnowed. The harvest was traditionally followed by a thanksgiving festival. The seed is harvested today, especially in Minnesota, for the epicurean market and local use and commands a high price. It is still gathered by traditional methods, though it is dried, threshed, and winnowed by mechanized means. The strains developed for large-scale commercial cultivation have been bred for uniform maturation and are grown paddies. Calfornia is the leading produce of these varieties, which are less expensive but often less flavorful than traditionally grown wild rice.

Wild rice is an important source of food and shelter for fish and waterfowl and is sown for this purpose. It is also planted as an ornamental grass in home garden ponds and bogs. The seed is usually sown in the spring; it should first be soaked in water overnight. Manchurian wild rice (Z. caducifolia) is a smaller plant native to NE Asia.

Wild rice is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Cyperales, family Gramineae.

Coarse annual grass (Zizania aquatica) of the family Poaceae (or Gramineae) whose grain, now often considered a delicacy, has long been an important food of American Indians. Despite its name, the plant is not related to rice. Wild rice grows naturally in shallow water in marshes and along the shores of streams and lakes in northern central North America. Cultivated varieties are now grown in Minnesota and California. The plant, about 3–10 ft (1–3 m) tall, is topped with a large, open flower cluster. The ripened grains, dark brown to purplish-black, are slender rods 0.4–0.8 in. (1–2 cm) long.

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Wild Rice Township is a township in Norman County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 334 at the 2000 census.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 35.3 square miles (91.3 km²), all of it land.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 334 people, 125 households, and 93 families residing in the township. The population density was 9.5 people per square mile (3.7/km²). There were 139 housing units at an average density of 3.9/sq mi (1.5/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 97.01% White, 2.69% Native American, 0.30% from other races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.10% of the population.

There were 125 households out of which 36.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 68.0% were married couples living together, 5.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.8% were non-families. 21.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.10.

In the township the population was spread out with 28.1% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 23.4% from 25 to 44, 26.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 122.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 116.2 males.

The median income for a household in the township was $35,625, and the median income for a family was $41,161. Males had a median income of $29,167 versus $19,821 for females. The per capita income for the township was $13,530. About 2.1% of families and 7.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.5% of those under age 18 and 13.9% of those age 65 or over.

References

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