American Lotus

Nelumbo lutea

Family: Nelumbonaceae
Genus: Nelumbo (nee-LUM-bo) (Info)
Species: lutea (LOO-tee-uh) (Info)
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Ponds and Aquatics

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


over 40 ft. (12 m)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Pale Yellow

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall


Grown for foliage


Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Scarify seed before sowing

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Fresno, California

Newark, Delaware

Venice, Florida

Cottage Grove, Minnesota

Jackson, Mississippi

Kansas City, Missouri

Dundee, Ohio

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Pocahontas, Tennessee

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 7, 2015, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A big, bold, beautiful water plant with huge, fragrant flowers. It is much like the Asian lotus, N. nucifera, except in flower color, and the two have been hybridized.

Colonies provide excellent food and shelter to wildlife.

According to BONAP, this species occurs in the wild in 33 midcontinental and eastern states---from Texas to Nebraska, Minnesota, and Ontario, and east to the Atlantic, plus California. It's rare in NE, IN, MI, NC, VA, MD, DE, and NJ. It has been legally declared threatened in MI and endangered in PA and NJ. Connecticut has declared it potentially invasive and banned its sale, transport, and planting.

If a plant owes much of its range to human transport---as is thought to be the case with the American lotus---it makes sense... read more


On Aug 26, 2011, BUFFY690 from Prosperity, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Growing lotus for the first time in an old pond (quite small) I figure I can offset the invasive factor by collecting seeds and pulling some and eating the root...if it takes off at all:0)


On May 3, 2011, garg from Alor Setar
Malaysia wrote:

The seed is edible. When it's still green, you can pick it out of the pod and eat it raw - very sweet and fresh. If the seed pod has dried, pick the seeds out, split in half, soak and boil. In Asia, it is added to desserts and soups. It has a dry, nutty texture.

The roots are also edible. Slice and stir fry, or slice very thinly with a mandolin, dip in batter and fry as tempura. Crispy, sweet and absolutely delicious!

Don't treat it as a weed - eat it!


On Jan 18, 2010, grrrlgeek from Grayslake, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

Native plants become invasive when competitor plants are destroyed or not present where they are planted. This happens especially with decorative flowering species that are grown without native rushes, etc.

That said, we have a tiny neglected pond that desperately needs something to use up excess nutrients so we're taking the plunge with 4 seeds. If they survive we will try to get all the pods off before they spread.


On Aug 10, 2007, IslandJim from Keizer, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

Isn't the notion of an invasive native an oxymoron? If not, I can think of a half-dozen natives that ought to be targets for the weedkillers, including the beloved southern live oak.


On Jun 2, 2004, OhioBreezy from Dundee, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

The scent alone is well worth growing this for! They are a pretty yellow here and just gorgeous. They do get rather tall, but if they are in a pond they work beautifully. Beware though, the fishies love to eat the emerging baby roots!


On Mar 24, 2004, ThreeBarns from Lees Summit, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

I am in zone 5/6 near Kansas City....The Mo. Dept of Conservation does consider this plant very invasive, and does not encourage its planting. You should find a person that wants to use their pond in the same way that you want to use yours...and see if they recommend it. Lotus will spread quickly to ALL parts of your pond that are less than 6 feet deep, and then will reach out each year another 10 to 20 feet. The leaves and blooms are really beautiful, but the stems have small prickly stickers all over them. That makes getting in the pond, even in a boat, very uninviting.
So, plant only if you are not going to use your pond for recreation, even fishing. You will find it VERY difficult to get rid of them once they are year! You will have to spray repeatly wi... read more


On Dec 5, 2003, baylysmom wrote:

AMerican lotus leaves emerge in the early summer, some warmer places they will emerge in late spring and become suspended about 2-3 feet above the water. They bloom in summer and only hold the flowers for a short time. The seeds are produced in a lare distinctive fleshy receptacle which is yellow as the flower opens, then turns grees and later, dark brown. american lotus leaves, unlike other waterlillies, does not have a split or notched leaf.

Progation is simple. Take the hard seeds from the seed head when the pod turns brown and poke a hole in the seed and toss in water. The water the lotus prefers is still water that is not deeper that 6 feet. 4 feet deep is preferred. Wonderful plant that can be very difficult to control when it becomes established so be sure you want lo... read more