Nelumbo lutea

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Lotus-lily, Yellow Lotus, American Lotus


Plant Specifics

Size: ft
Life Span:Long-lived perennial
Flower Color:Yellow
Fruit Color:Brown,black
Phenology:Winter dormant
Noted for:Showy flowers, Showy fruits, Interesting foliage


Recommended Uses:Water plant.
Considerations:Can be aggressive. This is not a plant for small places.
Propagation:Division of tubers or seed. Seeds are available through the Florida Wildflowers Growers Cooperative.
Availability:Native nurseries, Seed, Specialty providers
Light: Full Sun
Moisture Tolerance:
always floodedextremely dry
 (Aquatic (always flooded) ----- to ----- Aquatic)
Moisture Tolerance: Aquatic (always flooded) ----- to ----- Aquatic
Salt Water Flooding Tolerance:Not salt tolerant of inundation by salty or brackish water.
Salt Spray/ Salty Soil Tolerance:Low/no tolerance of salty wind or direct salt spray
Soil or other substrate:Pond, lake, or stream bottom
Soil pH:



The seeds of this wildflower are consumed by the Canada Goose, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, and probably other waterfowl. (Illinois Wildfllowers).  Beaver (and likely other wetland mammals) will consume seeds and veegetative parts of the plant.


The flowers are cross-pollinated by bees which collect pollen for their larvae.  Two bee species  that occur in Florida Lasioglossum nelumbonis and and Hylaeus nelumbonis, specialize in the pollen of the American lotus. Other visitors include flower flies (Syrphidae), shore flies (Ephydridae), and miscellaneous beetles. This latter group of floral visitors feed on pollen.  (Illinois Wildfllowers).  

Native Habitats:Ponds, lakes, rivers still or slow moving water in areas not subject to substantial wave action.

Distribution and Planting Zones

Natural Range in Florida
USDA Zones

Suitable to grow in:
8A 8B 9A 

USDA zones are based on minimum winter temperatures


Ethnobotany:Tubers were eaten by Indians (said to be similar to sweet potato) and leaves were eaten as greens (said to be similar to spinach). Dried fruits used as decoration in dried arrangements.
General Comments:

This can be a love-it-or-hate-it plant.  It is robust and can cover a large area.  Consider where you are going to plant it, and avoid planting in areas where it could take over a community pond.

While this plant meets the Florida Native Plant Society's definition of native (here when Europeans first arrived), the center of its range is the Mississippi River and its tributaries.  American Indians are known to have spread this plant given that it was a good, prolific food source once established.  They may have brought it to Florida.