Eleocharis dulcis

Common Name Chinese Water Chestnut
Family Cyperaceae
Synonyms E. dulcis. Heliocharis tuberosa.
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Marshy land and shallow water[200]. The edges of seasonal swamps in Australia[193].
Range E. Asia - China, Japan, to Australia.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Half Hardy Wet Soil Water Plants Full sun


Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Eleocharis dulcis is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9 and is frost tender. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)

USDA hardiness zone : 8-11

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers wet soil and can grow in water.

Eleocharis dulcis Chinese Water Chestnut

Eleocharis dulcis Chinese Water Chestnut
 Pond; Bog Garden;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Root.
Edible Uses: Salt.

Corm - raw or cooked[2, 46, 61, 63, 103]. A delicious taste, it is sweet and crisp when fully ripe and is starchy before that[116, 183]. Widely used in Chinese cooking, especially in chop suey. A flour or starch can be made from the dried and ground up corm and this is used to thicken sauces and to give a crisp coating to various deep-fried foods[183]. The root is about 4cm in diameter[206], it contains about 36% starch[193]. A nutritional analysis is available[218]. The plant is used for making salt in Zimbabwe[183]. No more details.
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.  
Root (Dry weight)  
  • 360 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 8g; Fat: 1.2g; Carbohydrate: 86g; Fibre: 3.5g; Ash: 5.5g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 22mg; Phosphorus: 350mg; Iron: 3.5mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 70mg; Potassium: 2450mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.4mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.5mg; Niacin: 5mg; B6: 0mg; C: 25mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes:
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.

Antibacterial;  Miscellany.

The plant is used to treat a number of ailments including abdominal pain, amenorrhoea, hernia and liver problems[218]. The expressed juice of the tuber is bactericidal[218].
Other Uses
Miscellany;  Weaving.

The leaf stems are used for weaving bags etc[193].
Cultivation details                                         
A plant of marshes and shallow water, it prefers slightly acid soil conditions and a sunny position[200]. Requires a rich fertile soil[206]. Plants are not very frost hardy, the tubers should be harvested at the end of the growing season and stored in a cool damp but frost-free position until the spring[206]. The water chestnut is widely cultivated for its edible tubers in China, there are some named varieties[183, 200]. It requires a 7 month frost-free growing season in order to produce a crop[116, 117]. Plants perform best at temperatures between 30 - 35°c during the leafy stage of growth, and about 5°c lower when the tubers are being formed[206]. This species is unlikely to succeed outdoors in Britain, though by starting the plants off early in a greenhouse it might be possible to obtain reasonable yields in good summers[K].
Seed - we have no details for this species but suggest sowing the seed as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in 3cm of water to keep the soil wet. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division. Harvest the tubers at the end of the growing season, store them in a cool but frost-free place over the winter and plant them out in early spring.

Additional information for Chinese water chestnuts