Nelumbo nucifera

Nelumbo nucifera
Nelumbo nucifera
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
Order: Proteales
Family: Nelumbonaceae
Genus: Nelumbo
Species: N. nucifera
Binomial name
Nelumbo nucifera
  • Nelumbium speciosum Willd.
  • Nymphaea nelumbo

Nelumbo nucifera, known by a number of names including Indian Lotus, Sacred Lotus, Bean of India, or simply Lotus, is a plant in the monogeneric family Nelumbonaceae. The Linnaean binomial Nelumbo nucifera (Gaertn.) is the currently recognized name for this species, which has been classified under the former names, Nelumbium speciosum (Willd.) and Nymphaea nelumbo, among others. Names other than Nelumbo nucifera (Gaertn.) are obsolete synonyms and should not be used in current works. This plant is an aquatic perennial. Under favorable circumstances its seeds may remain viable for many years, with the oldest recorded lotus germination being from that of seeds 1,300 years old recovered from a dry lakebed in northeastern China.[1]

A common misconception is referring to the lotus as a waterlily (Nymphaea), an entirely different plant as can be seen from the center of the flower, which clearly lacks the structure that goes on to form the distinctive circular seed pod in the Nelumbo nucifera.[citation needed]

Native to Tropical Asia and Queensland, Australia,[2][3] it is commonly cultivated in water gardens. The white and pink lotuses are national flowers of India and Vietnam, respectively.



Plant taxonomy systems agree that this flower is in the Nelumbo genus, but disagree as to which family Nelumbo is in, or whether it should be part of its own unique family and order tree.


Bud of Nelumbo nucifera seen against a leaf

The roots of Nelumbo nucifera are planted in the soil of the pond or river bottom, while the leaves float on top of the water surface or are held well above it. The flowers are usually found on thick stems rising several centimeters above the leaves. The plant normally grows up to a height of about 150 cm and a horizontal spread of up to 3 meters, but some unverified reports place the height as high as over 5 meters. The leaves may be as large as 60 cm in diameter, while the showy flowers can be up to 20 cm in diameter.

Researchers report that the lotus has the remarkable ability to regulate the temperature of its flowers to within a narrow range just as humans and other warmblooded animals do.[4] Dr. Roger S. Seymour and Dr. Paul Schultze-Motel, physiologists at the University of Adelaide in Australia, found that lotus flowers blooming in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens maintained a temperature of 30–35 °C (86–95 °F), even when the air temperature dropped to 10 °C (50 °F). They suspect the flowers may be doing this to attract coldblooded insect pollinators. The study, published in the journal Nature, is the latest discovery in the esoteric field of heat-producing plants. Two other species known to be able to regulate their temperature include Symplocarpus foetidus and Philodendron selloum.

The traditional Sacred Lotus is distantly related to Nymphaea caerulea and possesses similar chemistry. Both Nymphaea caerulea and Nelumbo nucifera contain the alkaloids nuciferine and aporphine.


Lotus root, cooked, boiled, drained
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 278 kJ (66 kcal)
Carbohydrates 16.02 g
- Sugars 0.5 g
- Dietary fiber 3.1 g
Fat 0.07 g
Protein 1.58 g
Water 81.42 g
Vitamin A equiv. 3 μg (0%)
Thiamine (vit. B1) 0.217 mg (19%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2) 0.01 mg (1%)
Niacin (vit. B3) 0.3 mg (2%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.302 mg (6%)
Vitamin B6 0.218 mg (17%)
Folate (vit. B9) 8 μg (2%)
Choline 25.4 mg (5%)
Vitamin C 27.4 mg (33%)
Vitamin E 0.01 mg (0%)
Vitamin K 0.1 μg (0%)
Calcium 26 mg (3%)
Iron 0.9 mg (7%)
Magnesium 22 mg (6%)
Manganese 0.22 mg (10%)
Phosphorus 78 mg (11%)
Potassium 363 mg (8%)
Sodium 45 mg (3%)
Zinc 0.33 mg (3%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Fruit of Nelumbo nucifera; the dried seed cup is commonly used in flower arrangements.
Boiled, sliced lotus roots used in various Asian cuisines
A Cambodian boy selling lotus fruit

The distinctive dried seed heads, which resemble the spouts of watering cansphoto, are widely sold throughout the world for decorative purposes and for dried flower arranging.

The flowers, seeds, young leaves, and "roots" (rhizomes) are all edible. In Asia, the petals are sometimes used for garnish, while the large leaves are used as a wrap for food, not frequently eaten (for example, as a wrapper for zongzi). In Korea, the leaves and petals are used as a tisane. Yeonkkotcha (연꽃차) is made with dried petals of white lotus and yeonipcha (연잎차) is made with the leaves. Young lotus stems are used as a salad ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine. The rhizome (called ǒu () in pinyin Chinese, ngau in Cantonese, bhe in Hindi, renkon (レンコン, 蓮根 in Japanese), yeongeun (연근 in Korean) is used as a vegetable in soups, deep-fried, stir-fried, and braised dishes and the roots are also used in traditional Asian herbal medicine. Petals, leaves, and rhizome can also all be eaten raw, but there is a risk of parasite transmission (e.g., Fasciolopsis buski): it is therefore recommended that they be cooked before eating.

Lotus rootlets are often pickled with rice vinegar, sugar, chili and/or garlic. It has a crunchy texture with sweet-tangy flavours. In Asian cuisine, it is popular with salad, prawns, sesame oil and/or coriander leaves. Lotus roots have been found to be rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, copper, and manganese, while very low in saturated fat.[citation needed]

The stamens can be dried and made into a fragrant herbal tea called liánhuā cha (蓮花) in Chinese, or (particularly in Vietnam)[citation needed] used to impart a scent to tea leaves. The lotus seeds or nuts (called liánzĭ, 蓮子; or xian liánzĭ, 鲜莲子, in Chinese) are quite versatile, and can be eaten raw or dried and popped like popcorn, phool makhana. They can also be boiled until soft and made into a paste, or boiled with dried longans and rock sugar to make a tong sui (sweet soup). Combined with sugar, lotus seed paste becomes one of the most common ingredients used in pastries such as mooncakes, daifuku, and rice flour pudding.[5]

In Vietnam, the bitter tasting germs of the lotus seeds are also made into a tisane (trà tim sen).

A unique fabric from the lotus plant fibers is produced only at Inle lake, Union of Myanmar and is used for weaving special robes for Buddha images called kya thingahn (lotus robe).

Hindu goddess Lakshmi holding & standing on a lotus.

Cultural significance

Vishnu holding the lotus, also sitting on it and wearing a lotus-bud crown.

From ancient times the lotus has been a divine symbol in Asian traditions representing the virtues of sexual purity and non-attachment.

Hindus revere it with the divinities Vishnu and Lakshmi often portrayed on a pink lotus in iconography. In the representation of Vishnu as Padmanabha (Lotus navel), a lotus issues from his navel with Brahma on it. Goddess Sarasvati is portrayed on a white-colored lotus.

Often used as an example of divine beauty, Vishnu is often described as the 'Lotus-Eyed One'. Its unfolding petals suggest the expansion of the soul. The growth of its pure beauty from the mud of its origin holds a benign spiritual promise. In Hindu iconography, other deities, like Ganga and Ganesha are often depicted with lotus flowers as their seats.

The lotus plant is cited extensively within Puranic and Vedic literature, for example:

One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus is untouched by water.
Bhagavad Gita 5.10:

In Chinese culture Confucian scholar Zhou Dunyi wrote:

I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is unstained.

The boy Buddha rising up from lotus. Crimson and gilded wood, Trần-Hồ dynasty, Vietnam, 14th-15th century

Most deities of Asian religions are depicted as seated on a lotus flower. In Buddhist symbolism, the lotus represents purity of the body, speech, and mind as if floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire. According to legend[citation needed], Gautama Buddha was born with the ability to walk, and lotus flowers bloomed everywhere he stepped.

In the classical written and oral literature of many Asian cultures the lotus is present in figurative form, representing elegance, beauty, perfection, purity and grace, being often used in poems and songs as an allegory for ideal feminine attributes. In Sanskrit the word lotus (padma पद्म) has many synonyms. Since the lotus thrives in water, ja (denoting birth) is added to synonyms of water to derive some synonyms for the lotus, like ambuja (ambu= water + ja=born of), neeraj (neera=water + ja= born of), pankaj, pankaja, kamal, kamala, kunala, aravind, arvind, nalin,nalini and saroja[6] and names derived from the lotus, like padmavati (possessing lotuses) or padmini (full of lotuses).[7] These names and derived versions are often used to name girls, and to a lesser extent boys, in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, as well as in many other countries influenced by Indic culture, like Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos.

Drawing in turn on these beliefs, the international Bahá'í community adopted this symbolism in the design of the Lotus Temple in New Delhi, India.

Other uses

See also


  1. ^ Long-living lotus: germination from 200 year old seeds
  2. ^ Perry, F. Flowers of the World Bonanza Books, 1972. p. 192-193
  3. ^ Serventy, V; Raymond, R. Lakes & Rivers of Australia Summit Books, 1980. p. 102-103
  4. ^ Heat of Lotus Attracts Insects And Scientists - New York Times
  5. ^ itmonline
  6. ^ Indian baby names (English)
  7. ^ Sanskrit-based names (English)

External links

Media related to Nelumbo nucifera at Wikimedia Commons

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  • Nelumbo nucifera — ID 55897 Symbol Key NENU2 Common Name sacred lotus Family Nelumbonaceae Category Dicot Division Magnoliophyta US Nativity Introduced to U.S. US/NA Plant Yes State Distribution AL, AR, FL, GA, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, SC, TN, WV Growth… …   USDA Plant Characteristics

  • Nelumbo nucifera — …   Википедия

  • Nelumbo nucifera — noun native to eastern Asia; widely cultivated for its large pink or white flowers • Syn: ↑lotus, ↑Indian lotus, ↑sacred lotus • Hypernyms: ↑water lily …   Useful english dictionary

  • NELUMBO NUCIFERA GAERTN. - ЛОТОС ОРЕХОНОСНЫЙ — см. 299. Многолетнее растение. N. nucifera Gaertn. Л. орехоносный Fruct. 1 (1788) 73. Burkill (1935) 38. Даскалов (1954) 28. Irvine (1953) 365. Barrau (1962) 123. Снигиревская (1964) 107. S y n. Nymphaea nelumbo L.; Nelumbo indica Lam.; N.… …   Справочник растений

  • Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn. — Symbol NENU2 Common Name sacred lotus Botanical Family Nelumbonaceae …   Scientific plant list

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