Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)

Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) is a species of aquatic flowering plant in the family Nelumbonaceae, native to tropical Asia and Queensland, Australia. It is also known as Indian lotus, Sacred Lotus, or Bean of India. The white and pink lotuses are the national flowers of India and Vietnam.

Lotus, 1.5 m tall with a spread of 3 m, is an aquatic perennial commonly cultivated in water gardens. The rhizomes attach firmly in the muds, and long stems are sent out with the large leaves grow at the tip, and float on top of the water surface. The leaves are green, and can be as large as 60 cm in diameter. The leaves are sometimes, and the flowers always, raised above the water surface. The fragrant white to pink lotus, up to 20 cm in diameter, are borne on thick stems rising above the water. The fruits are conical pod containing numerous seeds. When the seeds ripe, they become loose in the holes of the pod, and are released to the water when the pod tips down.

The roots (rhizomes), young leaves and flowers of lotus are edible. In Asia, the big leaves, usually dried, are used as food wrappers, while the beautiful petals are sometimes used as a garnish. In Vietname, the young stems are used as a salad ingredient. The roots are used as a vegetables in soups, deep fried, stir-fried, and braised dishes, and also as a traditional Asian herbal medicine. The lotus seeds or nuts can be eaten raw or boiled until soft and make into a paste. The paste is then combined with sugar to become what it is known as lotus seed paste, the most common ingredient used in pastries, dumpling, mooncakes, and rice flour pudding. The lotus seeds can also be boiled with dried longans and rock sugar to make a popular dessert called tong sui. The bitter germs are usually removed before use.

Lotus roots are rich in potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, copper, manganese, vitamin C and dietary fiber, and low in saturated fat.

Propagation is by division of rhizomes or by seeds.

Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera)
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