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Coarse annual grass (Zizania aquatica, or Z. palustris) of the family Poaceae 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 north-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.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on wild rice, visit Britannica.com.