Lotuses are perhaps the most spectacular plants in aquatic environments. The Chinese say that, once having seen the growing lotus, you never forget it. The lotus flowers have color from red, pink, pale yellow to creamy white. A separate, long, tubular stalk supports each flower and each large round leaf.
The sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera, is an extreme important spiritual symbol in Eastern religions. It represents purity, divine wisdom, and the individuals progress from the lowest to the highest state of consciousness.
Seeded in muddy waters, the lotus rises above the mud and produces beautiful and fragrant flowers. The big showy bloom may be 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) in diameter. The flowers open for just three days. Then each petal falls silently into the water, one by one, at a short period. The large green seed head or pod remains on the top of the stalk for a long time, and gradually turning to dark color and ripe. The seeds impeded in the cone-shape pod with flat surface at the top. The pod then reverts to the water, where it floats face down, allowing seeds to take hold in the mud. The seeds then germinate in the following Spring and give rise to new lotus plants.
All parts of lotus are edible. The immature seeds can be eaten raw or cooked, they have chestnut like flavor. Ripe seeds are roasted and ground into flour, or boiled to extract oil. Lotus roots produce starchy tubers and have the flavor of sweet potato. The young, unrolled leaves are cooked as a vegetable.