Genus of the Week
Week of April 5-11
This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the
context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of
all available Web resources for a particular genus.
If you like this page, you should also visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes
, a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family.
This week's genus:
Number of Species: At least 3
Root: Trapa simply means "trap" in Latin. A Caltrop (the common name of this
family) is a tool of war, used to thwart the enemy. It is best described as a large metal ball
with four spikes, one in each direction, such that one spike is always facing up however the
ball is thrown.
The genus Trapa, covering a group of herbaceous aquatic species, is the only genus in the
family Trapaceae. One species, T. natans, has the common name "European Water Chestnut",
and although its fruits are edible, they are not the same as the "water chestnuts" used in
Oriental cuisine. This same species has caused problems by clogging waterways and crowding out
native plants in the regions of America where it has been introduced.
Here are some links to images and information for the genus Trapa:
- Visit the Lucky Mojo web site to read about
T. bicornis, also known as "Devil Pod" (and you will see why!).
- Read about the effects of the invasive species
T. natans in Massachusetts, and see a picture of the foliage of this often annoying
- Here's what a
T. bicornis seed looks like after it has germinated, brought to you by the folks at
Texas A&M University...scary, huh?
- The Aquatic Plant Information Retrieval System from the University of Floraida has a
line drawing of a Trapa species,
showing vegetation, flower and fruit.
- Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
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