We have recently published ‘Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions’: i.e. tropical and sub-tropical regions. We rely on regular donations to keep our free database going and help fund development of this and another book we are planning on food forest plants for Mediterranean climates. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Nelumbo nucifera - Gaertn.

Common Name Sacred Water Lotus, Sacred lotus
Family Nelumbonaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Found in large lakes to 1400 metres in the Himalayas[51].
Range Western. Asia from Iran eastwards to China, Japan and Australia.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Water Plants Full sun
Nelumbo nucifera Sacred Water Lotus, Sacred lotus

Nelumbo nucifera Sacred Water Lotus, Sacred lotus


Translate this page:


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Nelumbo nucifera is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5. It is in flower from July to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects, beetles.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It can grow in water.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Nelumbium speciosum

Plant Habitats


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Root  Seed  Stem
Edible Uses: Coffee

Root - cooked as a vegetable[1, 46, 61, 272]. It is also a source of starch or arrowroot[2, 61]. Much used and relished in Chinese cooking, the root has a mild flavour[178] and a crisp texture[206]. It can be cooked with other vegetables, soaked in syrup or pickled in vinegar[264]. The root contains about 1.7% protein, 0.1% fat, 9.7% carbohydrate, 1.1% ash[179]. Young leaves - cooked or raw[46, 61, 117, 183]. Used as a vegetable[272]. The leaves can also be used to wrap small parcels of food before cooking them[264]. Stems - cooked. A taste somewhat like beet[2, 105]. They are usually peeled before use[193]. Seed - raw or cooked[1, 46, 51, 183, 272]. A delicate flavour[2]. The seed can be popped like popcorn, ground into a powder and used in making bread or eaten dry[183]. The bitter tasting embryo is often removed[116, 117]. The seed contains about 15.9% protein, 2.8% fat, 70% carbohydrate, 3.9% ash[179]. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute[183]. Petals can be floated in soups or used as a garnish[183]. The stamens are used to flavour tea[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antidiarrhoeal  Astringent  Cancer  Cardiotonic  Dysentery  Febrifuge  Hypotensive  Miscellany  
Miscellany  Resolvent  Stomachic  Styptic  Tonic  Urinary  Vasodilator

The Sacred water lotus has been used in the Orient as a medicinal herb for well over 1,500 years[238]. All parts of the plant are used, they are astringent, cardiotonic, febrifuge, hypotensive, resolvent, stomachic, styptic, tonic and vasodilator[116, 147, 152, 176, 238, 240]. The leaf juice is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and is decocted with liquorice (Glycyrrhiza spp) for the treatment of sunstroke[218]. A decoction of the flowers is used in the treatment of premature ejaculation[218]. The flowers are recommended as a cardiac tonic[240]. A decoction of the floral receptacle is used in the treatment of abdominal cramps, bloody discharges etc[218]. The flower stalk is haemostatic[176]. It is used in treating bleeding gastric ulcers, excessive menstruation, post-partum haemorrhage[238]. The stamens are used in treating urinary frequency, premature ejaculation, haemolysis, epistasis and uterine bleeding[176, 238]. A decoction of the fruit is used in the treatment of agitation, fever, heart complaints etc[218]. The seed contains several medically active constituents, including alkaloids and flavonoids[279]. It is hypotensive, sedative and vasodilator[176, 279]. The seed has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and to relax the smooth muscle of the uterus[279]. It is used in the treatment of poor digestion, enteritis, chronic diarrhoea, spermatorrhoea, leukorrhoea, insomnia, palpitations etc[176, 218, 238, 279]. The plumule and radicle are used to treat thirst in high febrile disease, hypertension, insomnia and restlessness[176, 238]. The root is tonic[218]. The root starch is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery etc, a paste is applied to ringworm and other skin ailments[218]. It is also taken internally in the treatment of haemorrhages, excessive menstruation and nosebleeds[238]. The roots are harvested in autumn or winter and dried for later use[238]. The root nodes are used in the treatment of nasal bleeding, haemoptysis, haematuria and functional bleeding of the uterus[176]. The plant has a folk history in the treatment of cancer, modern research has isolated certain compounds from the plant that show anticancer activity[218].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

Other Uses

Miscellany  Miscellany

The leaves are used as plates for eating food off[272].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Minor Global Crop  Staple Crop: Balanced carb

Requires a rich loam[1]. Succeeds in water up to 2.5 metres deep[200]. In cooler climates, however, it should be grown in shallower water, though no less than 30 cm deep, which will warm up more quickly and encourage better growth and flowering[200]. The plant is happiest with water temperatures of 23 - 27°c in the growing season[260] and requires a five month growing season[264]. This species is not tremendously hardy when grown outdoors in Britain and it is best, once the leaves have died down in the autumn, to store the roots in a frost-free place, either in a tub of water or in moist sand[264].. Plants are resentful of root disturbance and should be planted into their permanent positions as soon as possible[200]. Once established, they can become invasive when growing in suitable conditions[238]. A very ornamental plant[1], there are many named varieties some of which have been developed for their edible uses[183]. It is said that pink-flowered forms are preferred for their edible seeds whilst the white-flowered forms are preferred for their edible roots[264]. Most forms are not cold-hardy outdoors in Britain but some, especially those from far eastern provenances are much hardier and will possibly succeed outdoors in favoured areas of Britain[200]. The flowers have a sweet fruity perfume[245]. This is the sacred Lotus of India and it is much cultivated as a food plant in the Orient[1, 2].

Carbon Farming

  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.
  • Staple Crop: Balanced carb  (0-15 percent protein, 0-15 percent oil, with at least one over 5 percent). The carbohydrates are from either starch or sugar. Annuals include maize, wheat, rice, and potato. Perennials include chestnuts, carob, perennial fruits, nuts, cereals, pseudocereals, woody pods, and acorns.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

Seed - file the seed across its centre, being very careful not to damage the flesh of the seed, and soak in warm water, changing the water twice a day until signs of germination are seen, which should be within 3 - 4 weeks at 25°c. Plant in individual pots just covered in water and increase the depth as the plant grows. Division in spring as the plant comes into growth. Be very careful, the plants deeply resent root disturbance[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Nelumbo luteaAmerican Water Lotus, American lotusPerennial1.8 4-8  LMHNWa410

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

pp vaishnav   Thu May 5 07:03:15 2005

I am interested in getting the information on Nelumbo nucifera seed production countriwise or world total production. Additionally the information on scientific research on Nelumbo nucifera seeds like phytochemistry etc. Where can I get the nformation ?

Thanks and regards vaishnav

   Thu Oct 27 2005

it is pretty good but you have repeated information from former websites. for more information visit this web address http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Nelumbo+nucifera&CAN=LATIND

   Sat Apr 12 2008

Where to buy Nelumbo nucifera seeds?

lestari rahayu   Thu Apr 24 2008

I would like to planting by hydroponics for enhancing teh friut productivity

university of indonesia, Depok Indonesia [email protected]

Doesnotmatter   Sun Jan 4 2009

Seeds can be bought from any Indian/Chinese store. Ask them for lotus seeds. Be sure not to buy the hulled ones (they would be white in appearance). Buy whole seeds (brown, black in color).

evirocks!!!   Sun Mar 15 2009

i'm supposed to find information on nelumbo nucifera's home for my school, but so far-not good please help!

   Thu Nov 26 2009

seeds buy them from here - http://www.banana-tree.com/ a pack of 100 seeds costs about 7 dollars i think.


   Jul 14 2011 12:00AM

I've grown this plant for several years now. It is truely an amazing plant! Very fast growing with large beautiful leafs the size of dinner plates! I've grown my plants from seed and had great success! Blooming occurs the second year. The blooms are amazing and worth the wait! I live in zone 9a and I've been successful at overwintering my lotus in the lotus pond bog. I loved this plant so much I created a bog pond just for my lotus! I also created another pre formed pond dedicated to my oldest lotus. I can not say words to discribe how beautiful this plant is! I give this plant a shinning 5 star rating! Reasearch on plant facts is advised before growing this plant. It can be tender in some situations. Example: if you cut leaves off by water area you can actually drown the plants tubber and kill the whole plant. So some reasearch before hand is advised. This plant would be the " crown jewel" of your garden! I highly recomend growing this beautiful plant! It will amaze you daily! Fast growth, beautiful flowers and foleiage like you have never seen! Very exocotic looking! Once you start growing this plant, you can't grow just one! They are aoo beautiful!

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Nelumbo nucifera  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.