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Nelumbo lutea is a species of flowering plant in the family Nelumbonaceae. Common names include American lotus, yellow lotus, water-chinquapin, and volée. It is native to North America. The botanical name Nelumbo lutea Willd. is the currently recognized name for this species, which has been classified under the former names Nelumbium luteum and Nelumbo pentapetala, among others.
Comments: American Lotus is perhaps the grandest and most imposing native wildflower of wetland areas in Illinois. It resembles such emergent aquatics as Nuphar advena (Spatterdock) and Nymphaea odorata (Fragrant Water Lily), but its leaves are held well-above the surface of the water and its flowers have distinctive obconic receptacles. An introduced species, Nelumbo nucifera (Sacred Lotus), is occasionally cultivated in ponds and pools of water, but it has not naturalized in Illinois thus far. It can be distinguished from American Lotus by its pink flowers (rarely white) and petioles that are occasionally prickly. Because it is such a vigorous grower, lotus requires regular fertilization. One fertilizer tablet (per gallon of soil) every two to three weeks will suffice. Although Nelumbo lutea is hardy, its crown must never freeze solid. After a light frost or two in fall, cut the plant off at the soil line. It can either be placed at the very bottom of your pond, where the crown won’t freeze, or it can be stored in its pot in a cool, dark location where it can be kept moist.
Interestingly enough, one of the best and most popular lotus cultivars now grown in aquatic gardens is 'Mrs. Perry D. Slocum' — the beautiful result of a cross between the New World's Nelumbo lutea and a lovely Old World cultivar, 'Roseum Plenum'.Our true American native is not to be confused with the Old World lotus, Nelumbo nucifera, the sacred lotus of the Nile, which was introduced to Egypt in 523 by the Persians. This species is revered by Buddhists and Hindus alike, and the seeds, rhizomes, and leaves are an integral part of the Asian diet. (Source: www.chicagobotanic.org)