Water chestnut grows to a height of about 60 feet in the wild, but in cultivation is typically much shorter, often around 30 feet. It will produce very swollen trunks and has smooth greenish bark. The crown is rounded, spreading and very dense. Leaves are dark green, evergreen, compound with 5 or more lance-shaped leaflets, and overall 8 - 10 inches long. Flowers borne on inflorescences up to 14 inches long, almost hidden in the dense foliage; blooms are 3 - 4 inches wide, with cream-colored petals folding back to expose numerous stamens tipped with crimson and resembling a shaving brush. Fruits are brown, woody pods reaching 12 inches in length and 5 inches in diameter, tightly packed with tannish colored seeds about 1/2 inch in diameter. Seeds or cuttings are used for propagation. The seeds are eaten raw, cooked or ground into flour for bread; leaves and flowers are likewise edible. The trees are cultivated for their seeds, which are said to taste like chestnuts. The tree lives up to its water chestnut common name, growing well in poorly drained soils, in swamps and along rivers. It can be a larger specimen or accent tree in parks and gardens, and is also a popular potted bonsai house plant. As a bonsai, it may develop a bulbous trunk and be 3 - 4 feet tall; it may also be trained by braiding two trunks together to give it an unusual effect. Confusion exists about the identity of the woven-stemmed plants in the nursery trade, they are more often the french peanut (pachira glabra); see that description.