Sacred Lotus /Nelumbo Nucifera/
Lotus is a perennial water plant that grows from jointed tuberous rootstock that lay in the mud at the bottom of lakes and ponds.
The tubers, when cut, have multiple air-passages, which resemble the shape of a flower. The plant produces large leaves, which float on the surface of the water. Large scented flowers grow atop tall stems up to 1m above the water. Flowers grow in Summer and are followed by large seedpods with round seeds
The pink flowered varieties are preferred for their edible seeds whilst the white flowered varieties are preferred for their edible roots.
A plant of the subtropics and tropics, it can also be grown in cooler climates that have at least 5 warm months and will produce better quality rhizomes with a cold Winter.
Grows best in a sunny position in still water at a water depth of no more than 2m.
Planted in Spring, they will grow throughout the warmer months before the plant dies back and becomes dormant in Winter.
Lotus is easily grown in large tubs or bathtubs in compost or soil.
In early Spring Rhizomes can be divided into individual segments each with a growing ‘eye’.
It is easily damaged so handle it carefully. Cover the plant with soil leaving the ‘eye’ uncovered.
Fill the vessel with water just above the soil until it has sprouted, as the water will be warmer closer to the surface. Gradually add water over the next few weeks until it is covered with between 10-30cm of water.
Propagation from seed requires careful scarring of the seed with a knife. Soak the seed in water changing the water twice daily until germination occurs and plant directly or into pots.
Most parts of the lotus are edible.
Roots are cooked as a vegetable. It has a crisp texture even after cooking. Use in stir-fries, clear soups or fried as a chip.
It is also a source of starch.
Young leaves are eaten cooked or raw. Leaves can be used to wrap small parcels of food before cooking.
Stems are peeled and then cooked.
Seeds can be eaten raw or cooked. They can be popped, dried and ground to a flour. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute.
Flowers can be used as a garnish or added to clear soups just before serving.
Risks and weed potential
Harvesting & Processing
Lotus root is harvested when the plant becomes dormant. Carefully remove tubers from the soil/mud. They don’t store well in the fridge so harvest as needed. Leave the largest intact tubers for propagation. Wash to remove the soil.