Euryale ferox (also known as Makhana in Hindi/Punjabi, fox nut, foxnut, 'thangjing' in Meeteilon i.e. Manipuri, makhana, nikori (in Assamese), Onibas (Onibasu) in Japanese or gorgon nut) is the only extant species in the genus Euryale. It is a flowering plant classified in the water lily family, Nymphaeaceae, although it is occasionally regarded as a distinct family Euryalaceae. Unlike other water lilies, the pollengrains of Euryale have three nuclei. Euryale is an perennial plantnative to eastern Asia, and is found from India- found in Bihar,(Local name Makhana) and in Loktak Lake Manipur ( local name - Thangzing) to Koreaand Japan, as well as parts of eastern Russia. It grows in water, producing bright purple flowers. The leavesare large and round, often more than a meter (3 feet) across, with a leaf stalk attached in the center of the lower surface. The underside of the leaf is purplish, while the upper surface is green. The leaves have a quilted texture, although the stems, flowers, and leaves which float on the surface are covered in sharp prickles. Other leaves are submerged. In India, Euryale normally grows in ponds, wetlands etc. Recently the Indian Council of Agricultural Research has found out a technique for the field cultivation of Euryale.
Makhana vegetation, a seasonal aquatic macrophyte growing during the period of march to August. This species starts flowering during March to April followed by fruiting. The fruit coats rupture after maturation of fruits, resulting in the spread over of all seeds in bottom. This process continues during June-August a long time scale. The mallah community harvested makhana seeds lying in the bottom of the swamps having water about 2 meter depth. These activities took place during the peak monsoon period and continued till the end of October.
Makhana harvest takes place during morning at about 10 am continuous upto 3 pm. This is an age old tradition practiced confined in few communities. Four to five people together collect seeds from bottom at a time. They fix a bamboo pole locally known as karra, in one place cover upto 2-3 m redous around it during collection. They togetyher dip into water at the base of bamboo pole then each divergence into different direction to the periphery. They drag seeds with the help of their palm and gather them to the base of bamboo pole. One dip for one person lasts 30-45 min. The whole procedure of seed collection surrounding one pole takes 1-1.15 hr and depends upon the amount of seeds lying in the ground. Collected seeds are washed and cleaned with the help of container, locally known as Auka. The bidi ans matches box are kept in a small polythene bags, which are tied atop a kaara.
Storage and Packaging
Clean seed are then packed into small bags each with carrying capacity of about 20-30 kg and brought to the embakment. The seeds are again poured into a cylindrical container, locally known as Auka or khanjhi, which is rolled over ground so as to rub seed coat, which is rolled over ground so as to rub seed coat, which get smooth afterwards. They bring theb processed seeds to their hut and keep them as such overnight. Next day, female members spread them over a mat for drying for 2-3 hr under bright sunlight, even for 7-8 hr in case of cloudy weather.