American lotus

Floating Leaf Plants

Nelumbo lutea:

American lotus

Nelumbo lutea (Willd.) Pers.: American lotus, yellow lotus, water chinquapin. Nelumbonaceae (lotus family). 

Native perennial. Dense colonies can be found in still water to 6 ft (1.8 m) deep. Leaf and flower stalks arise directly from spongy rhizomes rooted in the substrate. Milky sap is found throughout the emergent parts of the plant and contains alkaloids similar to the drug-generating compounds common in other species of lotus. The circular leaves float flat on the water when young and later emerge to 3.3 ft (1 m), held up by stout leaf stalks attached to the middle of the underside of the blade. The large, waxy, plate-like leaves, 12 - 28 in (30 - 70 cm) wide, have no notch or indentation; the undersides have prominent ribs. Leaves held above the water surface are shallowly depressed at the center. The extremely showy yellow flowers emerge from a large egg-shaped bud. The flower is many-petaled, fragrant, 4 - 10 in (10 - 25 cm) wide, and carried up to 3.3 ft (1 m) above the water. A large fleshy funnel-shaped receptacle holds the nutlike fruits within pits on its surface; it hardens and turns brown as it dries, and the oval fruits (nuts) become loose within it. This is a very competitive species, able to reduce wildlife habitat diversity and to hinder water flow and access.