Foxnut, Euryale ferox

Euryale ferox is a flowering plant commonly known as the Foxnut. It is the only species in the genus Euryale. The plant is classified in the water lily family known as Nymphaeacae, although it is sometimes regarded in its own distinct family: Euryalaceae.

E. ferox grows in water and produces bright purple flowers. It has large and round leaves that often measure more than 3 feet in diameter. It has a leaf stalk that is attached in the center of the lower surface. The upper surface of the leaf is green while the underside is a purplish hue.  The leaves have a quilted texture; however the flowers, stems, and leaves which float on the surface are covered in sharp prickles. The plants other leaves are submerged.

E. ferox produces starchy white seeds. These seeds are edible. In China, India and Japan, the plant is cultivated for these seeds. The Chinese have cultivated this plant for over 3000 years. The seeds are collected in late summer and early autumn and may be eaten raw or cooked. When roasted or fried the seeds will pop like popcorn.

E. ferox is a perennial plant native to Eastern Asia. It is found from India to Korea and Japan. It can also be found in parts of Russia. The plant fares the best in locations with hot, dry summers and cold winters.

Image Caption: Leaves of a Foxnut (Euryale ferox). Credit: Jerzy Opiola/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)