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Edible uses


Root - cooked as a vegetable[1][2][3][4]. It is also a source of starch or arrowroot[5][3]. Much used and relished in Chinese cooking, the root has a mild flavour[6] and a crisp texture[7]. It can be cooked with other vegetables, soaked in syrup or pickled in vinegar[8]. The root contains about 1.7% protein, 0.1% fat, 9.7% carbohydrate, 1.1% ash[9].

Young leaves - cooked or raw[2][3][10][11]. Used as a vegetable[4]. The leaves can also be used to wrap small parcels of food before cooking them[8]. Stems - cooked. A taste somewhat like beet[5][12]. They are usually peeled before use[13]. Seed - raw or cooked[1][2][14][11][4]. A delicate flavour[5]. The seed can be popped like popcorn, ground into a powder and used in making bread or eaten dry[11]. The bitter tasting embryo is often removed[15][10]. The seed contains about 15.9% protein, 2.8% fat, 70% carbohydrate, 3.9% ash[9]. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute[11]. Petals can be floated in soups or used as a garnish[11].

The stamens are used to flavour tea[11].

Unknown part



Material uses

The leaves are used as plates for eating food off[4].
There are no material uses listed for Nelumbo nucifera.

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The Sacred water lotus has been used in the Orient as a medicinal herb for well over 1,500 years[16]. All parts of the plant are used, they are astringent, cardiotonic, febrifuge, hypotensive, resolvent, stomachic, styptic, tonic and vasodilator[15][17][18][19][16][20].

The leaf juice is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and is decocted with liquorice (Glycyrrhiza spp) for the treatment of sunstroke[21]. A decoction of the flowers is used in the treatment of premature ejaculation[21]. The flowers are recommended as a cardiac tonic[20]. A decoction of the floral receptacle is used in the treatment of abdominal cramps, bloody discharges etc[21]. The flower stalk is haemostatic[19]. It is used in treating bleeding gastric ulcers, excessive menstruation, post-partum haemorrhage[16]. The stamens are used in treating urinary frequency, premature ejaculation, haemolysis, epistasis and uterine bleeding[19][16]. A decoction of the fruit is used in the treatment of agitation, fever, heart complaints etc[21]. The seed contains several medically active constituents, including alkaloids and flavonoids[22]. It is hypotensive, sedative and vasodilator[19][22]. The seed has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and to relax the smooth muscle of the uterus[22]. It is used in the treatment of poor digestion, enteritis, chronic diarrhoea, spermatorrhoea, leukorrhoea, insomnia, palpitations etc[19][21][16][22]. The plumule and radicle are used to treat thirst in high febrile disease, hypertension, insomnia and restlessness[19][16]. The root is tonic[21]. The root starch is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery etc, a paste is applied to ringworm and other skin ailments[21]. It is also taken internally in the treatment of haemorrhages, excessive menstruation and nosebleeds[16]. The roots are harvested in autumn or winter and dried for later use[16]. The root nodes are used in the treatment of nasal bleeding, haemoptysis, haematuria and functional bleeding of the uterus[19].

The plant has a folk history in the treatment of cancer, modern research has isolated certain compounds from the plant that show anticancer activity[21].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


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[23].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Nelumbo nucifera. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Requires a rich loam[1]. Succeeds in water up to 2.5 metres deep[23]. 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[23]. The plant is happiest with water temperatures of 23 - 27°c in the growing season[24] and requires a five month growing season[8].

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[8].. Plants are resentful of root disturbance and should be planted into their permanent positions as soon as possible[23]. Once established, they can become invasive when growing in suitable conditions[16]. A very ornamental plant[1], there are many named varieties some of which have been developed for their edible uses[11]. It is said that pink-flowered forms are preferred for their edible seeds whilst the white-flowered forms are preferred for their edible roots[8]. 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[23]. The flowers have a sweet fruity perfume[25].

This is the sacred Lotus of India and it is much cultivated as a food plant in the Orient[1][5].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Nelumbo nucifera. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Nelumbo nucifera.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Nelumbo nucifera
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    1 x 1 meters
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type

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    1. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    2. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    3. ? Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    4. ? Manandhar. N. P. Plants and People of Nepal Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-527-6 (2002-00-00)
    5. ? Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.1 Stuart. Rev. G. A. Chinese Materia Medica. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre ()
    7. ? 7.07.1 Larkcom J. Oriental Vegetables John Murray ISBN 0-7195-4781-4 (1991-00-00)
    8. ? Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Vegetables Macmillan Reference Books, London. ISBN 0 333 62640 0 (1995-00-00)
    9. ? Reid. B. E. Famine Foods of the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre (1977-00-00)
    10. ? Rosengarten. jnr. F. The Book of Edible Nuts. Walker & Co. ISBN 0802707699 (1984-00-00)
    11. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.1 Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (1976-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.1 Low. T. Wild Food Plants of Australia. Angus and Robertson. ISBN 0-207-14383-8 (1989-00-00)
    14. ? Polunin. O. and Stainton. A. Flowers of the Himalayas. Oxford Universtiy Press (1984-00-00)
    15. ? Brooklyn Botanic Garden Oriental Herbs and Vegetables, Vol 39 No. 2. Brooklyn Botanic Garden (1986-00-00)
    16. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    17. ? 17.017.1 ? A Barefoot Doctors Manual. Running Press ISBN 0-914294-92-X ()
    18. ? 18.018.1 Lassak. E. V. and McCarthy. T. Australian Medicinal Plants. ()
    19. ? Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles (1985-00-00)
    20. ? Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
    21. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    22. ? Medicinal Plants in the Republic of Korea World Health Organisation, Manila ISBN 92 9061 120 0 (1998-00-00)
    23. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    24. ? Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Conservatory and Indoor Plants Volumes 1 & 2 Pan Books, London. ISBN 0-330-37376-5 (1998-00-00)
    25. ? Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World. Robert Hale. London. ISBN 0-7090-5440-8 (1994-00-00)

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