Lotus (Nelumbo species)

Lotus leaves and flower budsThe Lotus is an edible aquatic plant . There are two species of lotus: one has yellow flowers (known as American Lotus, Yellow Lotus, Water Chinquapin, or Volee) and the other pink flowers (known as Indian Lotus, Sacred Lotus, Bean of India, or simply Lotus). The flowers are large and showy and are found on thick stems rising above the leaves. The leaves, which may float on or rise above the surface of the water, often reach 1.5 meters (5 feet) in radius and are highly water repellent. The fruit has a distinctive flattened shape and contains up to 20 hard seeds.  The roots of the plant are in the soil of the pond or swamp while the leaves float on top of the water (or are held well above it).

Lotus leafWhere to Find: The yellow-flowered lotus is native to North America. The pink-flowered species, which is widespread in the Orient, is planted in many other areas of the world. Lotuses are found in quiet freshwater in lakes, swamps, or other areas subject to flooding.

Edible Parts: All parts of the plant are edible raw (wash them thoroughly) or cooked. The underwater parts contain large quantities of starch. Dig the fleshy portions from the mud and bake or boil them. Boil the young leaves and eat them as a vegetable. The seeds, known as “alligator corn”, have a pleasant flavor and are nutritious. Eat them raw, or parch and grind them into flour.

Other Uses: The leaves may be used as wrap for food.

Lotus leaves floating on water and flower bud

Several Lotus leaves floating on a pond

Hundreds of Lotus leaves covering the surface of a pond

Lotus leaves

Lotus seed pod

Dried Lotus seed pod

Old, dried, discarded Lotus seed pods

Yellow Lotus flower

Pink Lotus flower

Drawing of Lotus plant showing its components

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