Nelumbo nucifera

sacred lotus

Nonnative to Florida

Species Overview

Native to: Eastern Asia

Sacred lotus was introduced as an ornamental for water gardens and has escaped cultivation throughout the Eastern half of the United States. It thrives in the shallow still waters of lakes and freshwater marshes.

Species Characteristics

Family: Nelumbonaceae

Habit: Perennial emergent aquatic plant growing up to 6 feet above the water’s surface.  

Leaves: Circular peltate green or blue-green 0.75-2.5 foot leaves float on the water.

Flowers: 4-8 inches across, with about 15 pink tepals, a golden yellow receptacle, and a dense ring of golden yellow stamens.

Fruit: /Seeds: Seedpod spanning 3-4 in across and 0.75 in deep; becomes dark brown with maturity; individual seeds are exposed in small chambers.

Distribution in Florida: Vouchered from Madison, Marion, Hillsborough, and Miami-Dade counties.


Spreading via rhizome and by seed, Sacred lotus has been documented creating dense populations and smothering the surface of shallow lakes in the northeast US. This inhibits native aquatic vegetation, wildlife, and recreational opportunities. While not currently widespread in Florida, due to its invasive potential it should be removed if found outside of cultivation.

Control Methods

Preventive Measures

Do not plant.


Hand-pulling can be effective for small populations.


None known.


Consult your local UF IFAS Extension Office for management recommendations.

Learn more about this species

Atlas of Florida Plants



USDA Plant Database

Midwest Invasive Species Information Network