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The rice plant

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The rice plant, species Oryza Sativa, is from the family Gramineae (Grass Family).

The plant has many different variations, but is generally a short living plant, with an average life span of 3-7 months, depending on the climate and the variety. It is not a water plant but substantial amounts of water are required for the planting. Cultivated species of rice are considered to be semi-aquatic annuals. The height of the plant can range from 0.4m to over 5m in some floating rices.

Rice is generally grown in paddy fields – fields that can be flooded to help the growing crop and drained prior to harvest.  “Paddy” rice is rice in the form it is harvested.  Each grain has many layers.  The outer layer is the husk. The husk consists of 2 interlocked half shells. Each protects one half of the paddy. The husk is inedible and composed of silica and cellulose.

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Bran layers

The next layers are bran layers. Each layer is a very thin film of bran. Bran is mainly composed of fibre, Vitamin B complexes, protein and fat.  Along with the germ (or embryo) it is nutrient dense but forms only a small portion of the entire grain.  The germ is located at the base of each embryo and will grow into a new plant if the seed were planted.

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Endosperm

The inner part of the grain is the endosperm, which is composed of mainly starch but also contains vitamins and minerals. Different varieties of rice contains varying proportions of mainly 2 types of starch, amylose and amylopectin. The exact mixture of these determines the cooking texture of the rice.