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Water Chestnuts: Overview

Explorations of a Nemesis

Aesthetic and imaginative interpretations in ceramic of the water chestnut, an invasive species of the northeastern United States.
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Photo Credits:

*Barb:  Don Seymour

**All others:  Karen Jean Smith

Some basic facts:


-  The Latin name for water chestnuts is “Trapa natans.”

  - Different varieties of traps nations can be found in Europe, Asia and  the northern countries of Africa.  

  -  The European water chestnut was introduced to the United States in the mid 19th century.

  - In the United States it is considered an invasive species and has no natural predators.

  - One nut can produce several  rosettes, which can then produce up to 20 seeds apiece.


  - Mature nuts are released from the plants and sink to the water bottom where they can remain viable for up to 12 years.

   - Each nut has four sharp barbed points.

   - The rapid growth of water chestnuts inhibits the ecology of the area as well as recreation and economic activity.

   - Populations can be reduced through the use of herbicides, mechanical harvesters, and pulling or dredging by hand. Pulling by hand is the least damaging to the environment.

   - Water chestnuts have been found in New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Vermont, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Quebec.

 - Control can be very expensive.  Over the past 20 years, 2.8 million dollars has been spent in the Chesapeake Bay area alone.




Source: Eyres, Willow, June 2009.Water Chestnut Infestation in the Susquehanna Watershed, Occasional Paper No. 44, State University of New York, College at Oneonta

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