Wild rice is actually an aquatic grass, not a grain, though it’s referred to as rice because it looks and cooks like all other types of rice.
Zizania aquatica or Zizania palustris (Wild rice) is a semi-aquatic grass that grows in shallow water in small lakes and slow-flowing streams that are 2 to 4 feet in depth. Cultivated wild rice is grown in less than a foot of water, but consistent water depth is essential to nurture the growing wild rice plant. Wild rice is not directly related to Oryza sativa (Asian rice) or Oryza glaberrima (African rice)which we consume commonly now.
Wild rice originated in the area of the upper Great Lakes both in the U.S. and Canada. By law, in order to preserve and protect this species of uncultivated Minnesota wild rice ("wild" wild rice), it must be harvested and milled in the traditional Native American way by those licensed to do so.