Nelumbo lutea (American Lotus)
|Also known as:||Wab-bis-sa-pin, Tewape, Water-Chinquapin, Sacred Bean|
|Habitat:||sun; floodplains and backwaters of major rivers, some lakes|
|Bloom season:||July - September|
|Plant height:||to 6 feet deep water|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Single, large pale yellow flower 4 to 10 inches across on a naked stalk rising up to 3 feet above the water. Large oval petals are arranged spirally around a large, spongy yellow-orange pitted receptacle; some outer petals are green and sepal-like. Numerous yellow-orange stamens are spirally arranged around the receptacle. The receptable is up to 4 inches across.
Leaves and stem:
Large, round, smooth and hydrophobic leaves, richly green, 12 to 28 inches across, attached centrally to long sturdy leaf stalk arising from the submerged tuberous stem on the water's muddy bottom. Leaves rise a foot or more above the surface of the water.
Seeds about ½ inch long develop in the pits of the receptacle. Dried receptables are available at some craft stores and used in flower arrangements, though it is not certain that all those available in such stores are native lotus. It's been noted that the seed of this species can remain viable for several centuries. I believe I once read that Egyptian white lotus - Nymphaea lotus - held sacred by the ancient Egyptians - its seed has been found viable in the tombs of Pharaohs. Talk about Eternal Life... we know who won on that one!
Notes:This is Minnesota's largest native wildflower bloom—it cannot be confused with any other native pond plant. Mostly restricted to backwaters of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, some inland lake populations (Lake Minnetonka) that persist but may be the result of human introduction. Interestingly - the populations I've observed come and go. The populations at both locations where these images were taken where not observably visible above water in 2010. The close-up of the flower posted above is arguably my favorite native wildflower image I've taken—there is even a good story behind it. Everytime I look at it, I'm still awestruck on how beautiful that field of lotus was that morning. Just right place at the right time.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- a colony of American Lotus
- another colony of American Lotus
- plants rising above the water
- side view of dried receptacle
Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Lilydale Regional Park, the Minnesota-side of the Mississippi just north of Winona, and a local craft store
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?