Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Plant of the Week: American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea)

What is not to love about this water plant?  It is large and showy, has a really cool upside down shower head seed pod that works wonders in dried plant arrangements, and is easy to grow and maintain in any water garden.  Our native lotus is easy to identify and it is not a water lily.  Water lilies have indentations on their leaves and lotus do not, rather they form a complete circle and they can be large, sometimes up to 1 to 2' in diameter and I love how water beads in the center of the leaves and forms perfect round balls.  Now if you have a pond, you need to be careful about putting this species in the mud because it can completely take over a pond. In a water garden it is easy to maintain in pots placed on the bottom of the pond.  In nature it grows at the edges of ponds and rivers and the large leaves and large (up to 6 to 9" in diameter) showy flowers can stand above the water by 3' or more.  It typically grows in the bottom mud in about 18" of water. The flowers are fragrant and vary in color from white to yellow.  The leaves seem to have a bluish-green shimmer to them adding to their attractiveness as a landscape plant.  Beaver and muskrats have been known to eat the tubers and in times past, humans baked the tubers like a potato (each tuber can weigh up to a half pound), cooked the seeds like corn, and ate the leaves when they emerged in the spring.  The native range is pretty much throughout the eastern United States from Canada to Florida.  It is known by a variety of common names including alligator buttons, duck acorns, rattlenuts, water chinquapin, yonkapin, and yockernut.  The name Nelumbo means sacred bean and the species name lutea means yellow and thus translated it simply means yellow sacred bean.  In the old world especially in India, China, and with the Buddhist faith, lotus is a sacred plant to be honored.  Perhaps it should so be in this world as well.

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