American lotus – Nelumbo lutea
This grandiose aquatic plant is native to Florida. Its leaves are emersed above the water or floating on the surface. American lotus can be found in muddy, shallow waters, such as lake margins; or in water as deep as 6 feet. American lotus occurs throughout Florida and it flowers from May through August.
This aquatic plant is very easy to identify. Its flowers, seed pods, and leaves are distinctive. Its flowers are very large: up to 6 inches wide. The flowers are luminescent yellow, with many petals and stamens. The leaves are circular. They are easily distinguished from other circular-leaf plants. Other plants, such as the fragrant water lily, all have leaves that are cut. American lotus leaves, though, are not cut at all. American lotus leaves are on long, stiff stalks. The stalks connect to the leaf at the very center of the leaf, umbrella-like. Whether they know it or not, many people are already familiar with American lotus seed pods. They can be bought at grocery stores and flower shops in flower arrangements. This hard, flat-topped, cone-shaped fruit contains many large brown seeds.
The native American lotus has
- extremely large, yellow flowers,
- circular leaves with no cuts, and
- large, cone-shaped seed pods.