Monday, 6 October 2008

What are these?

We have had a week's holiday for National Day as I have mentioned and the campus was quiet. Lovely. Over the weekend the students started arriving back, and one called me. She had a gift from her mother for me. So I met her near one of the class buildings and came back to my apartment.
She gave me a bag full of strange things. I had no idea of what they were. She bit one with her teeth and crunched off one of the "wing'" bits. Inside it is like a potato but is in fact it is some sort of water chestnut.
I am not sure what they are called in English. The students call them Da Lin - but I cannot find any other information.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The official name is Trapa Bicornis. Also known as devil pod and bat nut. Here is the brief introduction.

The raw nuts, rich in carbohydrate and fat, contain toxins which must be destroyed by boiling to render them safe to eat; they are eaten whole or ground for flour. The horn nut, T.bicornis, is known to have been used for food in Neolithic Britain, although its centre of origin is China; the genus naturalized in Australia and North America.

Trapa spp., are found in still and slow-moving water systems in warm temperate regions, often as a weed, as in the Caspian, where it threatens sturgeon-feeding grounds, and in India and Sri Lanka, where it invades irrigation tanks, causing nuisance by producing large quantities of decaying vegetation. They are sometimes cultivated as floating plants in aquaria, or in ponds. T. natans is the most frost-hardy species, naturalized in some parts of the United States. Give full sun, slightly acidic water and a rich, heavy planting medium. Seeds loose viability if allowed to dry and should be stored in water or wet moss.