Tag Archives: Zizania latifolia

Manchurian Wild Rice | Zizania latifolia

California Pest Rating  for
Machurian Wild Rice. Photo credit: National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA), New Zealand
Click on image for photo citation
Manchurian Wild Rice | Zizania latifolia
Pest Rating: A | Proposed Seed Rating: R


Initiating Event:

This plant was been detected in California in 2017.

History & Status:

Zizania latifolia is a large perennial grass growing to 3.5 m.  It is hardy in warm temperate and subtropical areas. It flowers from July to September, and the seeds ripen soon thereafter. The flowers are bisexual. It is adaptable to many soil types and can even grow in shallow water once established. Z latifolia typically grows in dense, long-lived stands on land and water margins, overtopping other riparian species. It is extremely tolerant of damage, grazing, cold or heat, wind, fire, different soil types, moderate shade and moderate salinity.

Although Z. latifolia was once grown in China as a grain crop, it is now almost exclusively grown as a vegetable. The swollen stem bases, infected with the smut fungus Ustilago esculenta, are eaten as a vegetable by the Chinese. They must be harvested before the fungus starts to produce spores, as the stems deteriorate once the smut reaches reproductive maturity.

Official Control: Z. latifolia has been eradicated in California and other states as it serves as a host to a fungus that could infect North American native wild rice species (e.g., Z. aquatica). Importation of the stems to the United States is prohibited in order to protect the North American Zizania from the fungus. A small plot of smut-infested Z. latifolia was discovered growing near Modesto, CA in 1991; it was destroyed to prevent the spread of the smut.

California Distribution:  Z. latifolia is not known to be naturalized in California, but it is being cultivated in Riverside County.

California Interceptions: Z. latifolia was recently submitted to CDFA from a cultivated field in Riverside County.

Worldwide Distribution: Z. latifolia is native to China, Northeastern India, Japan, Korea, Myanmar, and southern Russia where is grown as a vegetable. It is cultivated in Southeast Asia as well. It is naturalized in several other areas. It is unknown whether it is not invasive in these areas despite naturalization, or its invasiveness is ignored due to its long cultivation. Z. latifolia was accidentally introduced into New Zealand where it has become a serious wetland weed in the coastal zone of the North Island. It was also introduced into Hawaii, where it may not have persisted.

Consequences of Introduction: 

1) Climate/Host Interaction: Evaluate if the pest would have suitable hosts and climate to establish in California. The risk is Medium (2), as the plant could occur in wetlands in warmer areas. Areas such as the Delta as well as irrigation canals and watering ponds might be potential habitat for this plant in California.

Low (1) Not likely to establish in California; or likely to establish in very limited areas.

Medium (2) may be able to establish in a larger but limited part of California.

High (3) likely to establish a widespread distribution in California.

2) Known Pest Host Range: Evaluate the host range of the pest. Score: 3 The risk is High (3) as weeds do not require any one host, but grow wherever ecological conditions are favorable.

Low (1) has a very limited host range.

Medium (2) has a moderate host range.

High (3) has a wide host range.

3) Pest Dispersal Potential: Risk is High (3). The plant spreads vegetatively via rhizomes and produces numerous seeds. Under the right conditions it can spread rapidly in water. The seeds can spread on boats and equipment. Birds may also spread the seed.

Evaluate the natural and artificial dispersal potential of the pest:

Low (1) does not have high reproductive or dispersal potential.

Medium (2) has either high reproductive or dispersal potential.

High (3) has both high reproduction and dispersal potential.

4) Economic Impact: If it invaded wet meadows (as in New Zealand) or rice fields, it could lower yields and choke out desired plants. It can grow in irrigation ditches and reduce water delivery and access. The swollen stem bases, infected with the smut fungus Ustilago esculenta, are eaten as a vegetable by the Chinese. There is concern that esculenta could spread from Z. latifolia to native North American species of Zizania (e.g., Z. aquatica) that produce commercial wild rice. Z. aquatica is not native to California, but over 16,000 acres of wild rice was grown in California in 2006, making it the largest producer of wild rice in the world.

Economic Impact 4: A, D, E, & G.

Evaluate the likely economic impacts of the pest to California using the criteria below.

A. The pest could lower crop yield.

B. The pest could lower crop value (includes increasing crop production costs).

C. The pest could trigger the loss of markets (includes quarantines).

D. The pest could negatively change normal cultural practices.

E. The pest can vector, or is vectored, by another pestiferous organism.

F. The organism is injurious or poisonous to agriculturally important animals.

G. The organism can interfere with the delivery or supply of water for agricultural uses.

The potential Economic Impact is High (3):

Low (1) causes 0 or 1 of these impacts.

Medium (2) causes 2 of these impacts.

High (3) causes 3 or more of these impacts.

5) Environmental Impact: Under favorable circumstances, latifolia forms permanent stands along water margins and moist meadows of nothing but Zizania latifolia, replacing all other species. It can increase siltation, altering water systems, increase the impact of flooding and destroying habitat for aquatic fauna and flora. The impact is potentially High (3).

Environmental Impact 3: A, C, & D

Evaluate the environmental impact of the pest on California using the criteria below.

A. The pest could have a significant environmental impact such as lowering biodiversity, disrupting natural communities, or changing ecosystem processes.

B. The pest could directly affect threatened or endangered species.

C. The pest could impact threatened or endangered species by disrupting critical habitats.

D. The pest could trigger additional official or private treatment programs.

E. The pest significantly impacts cultural practices, home/urban gardening or ornamental plantings.

Environmental Impact Score: 3

Low (1) causes none of the above to occur.

Medium (2) causes one of the above to occur.

High (3) causes two or more of the above to occur.

Consequences of Introduction to California for Zizania latifolia:

Add up the total score and include it here. High (14)

Low = 5-8 points

Medium = 9-12 points

High = 13-15 points

6) Post Entry Distribution and Survey Information: Evaluate the known distribution in California. Only official records identified by a taxonomic expert and supported by voucher specimens deposited in natural history collections should be considered. Pest incursions that have been eradicated, are under eradication, or have been delimited with no further detections should not be included.
Score: 0

Not established (0) Pest never detected in California, or known only from incursions.

Low (-1) Pest has a localized distribution in California, or is established in one suitable climate/host area (region).

Medium (-2) Pest is widespread in California but not fully established in the endangered area, or pest established in two contiguous suitable climate/host areas.

High (-3) Pest has fully established in the endangered area, or pest is reported in more than two contiguous or non-contiguous suitable climate/host areas.

Final Score

The final score is the consequences of introduction score minus the post entry distribution and survey information score: High (14)


There is moderate uncertainty, as the plant has established and become invasive in New Zealand, but similar conditions occur in limited areas of California. It is native to eastern Asia and widely naturalized beyond its natural range, yet it is not cited as a weed of rice paddies despite being seemingly well adapted to these conditions.

Conclusion and Rating Justification:

A potentially significant weed in CA of both natural wetlands, wet crop lands and irrigation canals. It is also a carrier of a fungus that could attack and seriously reduce productivity of wild rice. Despite some uncertainty, an A rating is justified given the potential risks.


Baldwin, B. G., D. H. Goldman, D. J. Keil, R. Patterson, T. J. Rosatti, and D. H. Wilken, editors. 2012. The Jepson manual: vascular plants of California, second edition. University of California Press, Berkeley.

CDFA Pest Damage Report 331PO6200067 dated 10/19/2017.

CDFA Pest Damage Report 331PO6200069 dated 10/20/2017.

Chen, S., Li, D., Zhu, G., Wu, Z., Lu, S., Liu, L., et al. 2006. Zizania in Flora of China, Vol. 22. Z. Y. Wu & P. H. Raven eds. Beijing; St. Louis, MO: Science Press, Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Pp. 186–187.

Duke, J. A. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops: Zizania aquatica L. Accessed online 11/9/2017: https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Zizania_aquatica.html

Larkcom J. Oriental Vegetables John Murray 1991 ISBN 0-7195-4781-4

Global Invasive Species Database. Species profile: Zizania latifolia. Accessed on on 11/8/2017:  http://www.iucngisd.org/gisd/species.php?sc=866

Ohwi, J. 1984. Flora of Japan. F. G. Meyer & E. G. Walker, eds. Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington, D.C.

Tanaka. T. Tanaka’s Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing 1976

Terrell, E. E. & L. R. Batra. 1982.  Zizania latifolia and Ustilago esculenta, a grass-fungus association. Economic Botany 36: 274–85.

Wagner, W. L. D. R Herbst and S. H. Sohmer. 1999. Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai`i, Volume 1. University of Hawai’i and Bishop Museum Press. Honolulu, HI.

Weedbusters Plant Profile: Manchurian Wild Rice. Accessed 11/8/2017: http://www.weedbusters.org.nz/weed-information/zizania-latifolia/59/

Photo credit: National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research (NIWA), New Zealand

Responsible Party:

Dean G. Kelch, Primary Botanist; California Department of Food and Agriculture; 1220 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95814; Tel. (916) 403-6650;  plant.health[@]cdfa.ca.gov.


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Pest Rating: A | Proposed Seed Rating: R

Posted by ls