With a symmetrical, exquisitely beautiful
flower, Nelumbo nucifera, commonly known
as the East Indian lotus or sacred lotus, is an
aquatic perennial native to northern
Australia, Papua New Guinea and South-East
Asia and grows in lowland wetlands. In
Australia it has been recorded down to the
New South Wales/Queensland border.
Large, fragrant deep-pink flowers appear
between March and November.
The Nelumbo (lotus) fruit develops well
above the water as a large spongy capsule
containing several loose hard-coated seeds.
The young seeds are a favoured food in many
cultures and the dry spongy fruit is popular
in dried flower arrangements. As the fruit
matures it nods over and free seeds gradually
drop and sink. They may stay buried in the
mud for many decades, or even a hundred
years in dried mud, before germinating.
The plant also spreads by sprouting from
the prickly creeping rhizome, also a valued
part of many Asian cuisines. The leaves
develop at the height of the wet season but the
prickly leaf stalks are stiff, and the leaves are
left standing above the water as the level drops.
The flowers are produced among the leaves
and stand clear of the water. The classical
symmetrical lotus bud only lasts a day or two
before the flower becomes bedraggled.