American lotus (Nelumbo lutea)

American lotus (Nelumbo lutea) is a species of aquatic flowering plant in the family Nelumbonaceae, native to southeastern United States, Mexico, Honduras, and the Caribbean. It is also known as Yellow Lotus, Yellow water lotus, and Water-chinquapin. It is planted for its foliage and flowers.

American lotus, 0.8-1.5 m tall, grows in lakes and swamps, and edges of slow moving streams and rivers. It is recognized by the large, umbrella -like leaves and the inverted, cone-like structure in the middle of the flowers. The rhizomes are anchored in the mud, while the leaves and flowers are above the water surface. The round leaves are dull-satiny bluish green on top and pale green with prominent veins underneath. They are 30-45 cm diameter and have long petioles, up to 2m long. The fragrant white or pale yellow flowers, 18-28 cm diameter, are bloomed from late spring to summer. There are as many as 22-25 petals in each flower. The flowers open in the morning and close by late afternoon and reopen the following day.

The rhizomes of American lotus are used as a food source by the Native Americans. The large tuberous roots are baked like sweet potatoes. The young leaves can be steamed or boiled like spinach. Immature seeds acan be eaten raw and the mature seeds can be shelled and roasted and eaten like nuts or grounded into flour. The flat-topped seed pods look like showerheads and are often used in dried flower arrangements.

Propagation is by seeds or division of rhizomes. American lotus needs lots of space to spread and reproduce.

American lotus (Nelumbo lutea)American lotus (Nelumbo lutea)
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authorshipliz west
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