People grow the Chinese water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis) for its edible round corms. Commonly called water chestnuts, this aquatic vegetable grows in a grasslike sedge in marshes underwater in the mud. Many people purchase water chestnuts in a can as a crunchy, potatolike ingredient in Asian recipes. However, do not confuse the Chinese water chestnut with an unrelated edible species. Government officials list the species from the genus Trapa natans, also commonly called water chestnuts, as invasive or noxious aquatic plants. Only the Chinese water chestnut produces the round corm with its characteristic chestnutlike flavour and texture.
Locate a supplier of Chinese water chestnut plants.
Call local nurseries or garden supply shops or conduct an online Internet search for suppliers of aquatic plants, if Chinese water chestnut plants are not available locally in your area.
Buy water chestnut plants from a reputable seller. In the United States, Chinese water chestnut plants grow mainly in Florida, Georgia, California or Hawaii.
Pick only water chestnut plants identified specifically as Chinese water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis).
Select water chestnut plants with firm, compressed corms if you are buying from a local store instead of ordering by mail. Water chestnut corms resemble gladiolus bulbs in being vertically compressed and round with a firm interior, according to the University of Florida.