Wild rice grows in shallow water, small lakes and slow-flowing streams. Different species are native to the Great Lakes, Boreal Forest, Atlantic and Gulf coasts, St. Lawrence River, San Marcos River and parts of China.
The wild ancestor of rice is known as Oryza rufipogon. It’s natural habitat (see my first citation for a map) spreads from India east to southern China, and south through south east asia and Indonesia. It’s also found in North America, not as a native species but as an invasive weed.
The wild ancestor of domesticated rice should not be confused with a separate group of grass species native (in the genus Zizania) which are mostly native to North America, and have the common name “wild rice” based on their similar appearance to rice. When you purchase this rice in stores it usually comes from farmers in Minnesota (and as a farmed crop isn’t really wild at all.)
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