Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Eleocharis dulcis




This leafless rush grows to 1.5 m high and sometimes bears tubers that can be up to 10 mm in diameter. Its hollow cylindrical stems are divided internally by fine partitions.

Where it is found

The Spike-rush occurs in dense stands in permanent water bodies north from Murwillumbah on the New South Wales north coast. It is also found in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.


  • The delicious onion-shaped tubers are dug out at the end of May to early June when the swamps are drying out. Older tubers are roasted, but the younger tubers are eaten raw.
  • The rushes are used medicinally in Groote Eylandt where they are collected from saltwater swamps and soaked in sea water. The liquid is poured onto open wounds, and the soft hollow stems are then packed over the injury where they adhere to and seal the wound (Isaacs 1987).
  • Eleocharis dulcis is cultivated in Asia for its edible tubers, which are known as Chinese Water Chestnuts.

Further information

Click here for further information on Eleocharis dulcis.

Eleocharis dulcis
Delicious tubers of the Water Chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis) can be eaten raw or roasted. Photo: Surrey Jacobs at Fogg Dam.

Eleocharis dulcis: habit, tuber, flower spike.