Nelumbo nucifera Gaertner

Last updated: 13 July 2015

Scientific Name

Nelumbo nucifera Gaertner


Nelumbo caspica (Fisch.) Schipcz., Nelumbo caspica Fisch., Nelumbo komarovii Grossh., Nelumbo speciosa Willd., Nymphaea nelumbo L., Nelumbo speciosa var. alba F.M.Bailey, Nelumbo nucifera var. macrorhizomata Nakai [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Seroja, padema, teratai [2][3], telipok, bunga padam [3], lian hua [4]
English Lotus, sacred lotus, Indian lotus [2], Chinese arrowroot, Chinese waterlily, Egyptian bean, lotus, Padma, pink water lily, red lily, sacred lotus [4]
China He ye, ho yeh, lian zi, lian shu, lian, ho, fu chu [4]
India Abja, acaiyapattipam, calacanmam, drishopadma, kamalamu, mirunallakoti, nilufu, parparakam, sarasiruha, tarutam, thaaamara, vantunikotti, vintu [4]
Indonesia Terate, bungan tunjung (Balinese) [4]; terate, seroja, padma [2]
Thailand Bua-luang (General); ubon (Central); sattabut (Central) [2]
Philippines Baino (Taglog); sukan (Bikol); sukaw (Illokano) [2]; balbalino [4]
Cambodia Chhu:k [2]
Vietnam Sen, hoa sen [2], lien [4]
Laos Bwà [2]
Tibet Pa dma dkar po, pa dma dmar po, u-tpa-la [4]
Japan Hasu, renkon [4]
France Lotus sacré [2]

Geographical Distributions

Nelumbo nucifera originated from continental Asia (possibly India), but it is now widely distributed (wild or cultivated) from North-Eastern Africa to North-Eastern Australia, including Southeast Asia, China and Japan. For at least 6000 years, it has been associated with the Indian culture and religion as a sacred flower. It is also occasionally cultivated as an ornamental in Europe, Africa and America. [2]

The natural habitat for N. nucifera is freshwater bodies in the tropical and subtropical Asia. N. nucifera grows in old mining pools, natural or man-made lakes, canals and ponds. Because the rhizomes lie deep in the mud underwater, they are beyond the reach of frost that would kill them. Therefore, it is widely distributed in Asia even in the regions not free from frost. It occurs from sea level up to 1800 m altitude. [2]

Botanical Description

N. nucifera is a member of the Nelumbonaceae family. It is a large, perennial, glaucous, hairless and aquatic herb that can reach up to 1.2-2.5 m tall, contains milky latex and roots in the substrate (usually mud). The rhizomes are creeping, jointed, measure up to 10 m long, measuring 6-9 cm in diametre, with ellipsoidal interjoints which measured 10-30 cm long, white to light brown, fleshy, mucilaginous and slightly fibrous. [2]

The leaves are with peltate that arise from the joints which are one leaf per joint. The petiole is cylindrical, measures up to 2.5 m long, covered with short fleshy prickles and inside with numerous air canals. The blade is depressed orbicular or shallowly cup-shaped, measuring up to 90 cm or more in diametre, entire, glaucous above, purplish beneath and raised above the water. [2]

The flowers are solitary, axillary, projecting above the water higher or as high as the leaves, erect or nodding, measuring 15-25 cm in diametre, fragrant, pink with a white base and rarely entirely white. The pedicel is erect, cylindrical, measures up to 2 m long or longer and prickly like the petiole. There are 2-5 sepals, measuring up to 2.5 cm x 2 cm and fall off before anthesis. There are about 20 petals which are unequal, obovate, measuring up to 7-15 cm x 3-7 cm and inserted at the base of the receptacle. The outer ones are smallest and the intermediate ones are largest while the innermost ones are medium-sized. The stamens are numerous, inserted immediately above the petal, with linear filaments, measure up to 2.5 cm long and with yellow anthers. The receptacle is obconical with a flat apex, measuring 2-4 cm x 3-4 cm, spongy, yellow at anthesis, turns green to finally black-brown and measuring 6-11 cm in diametre. There are 10-30 ovaries that are wide apart, sunken in the apex of the receptacle, free and uniovulate. The style is short and with a thickened stigma. [2]

The fruit is an aggregate of indehiscent nutlets. The nutlets are 10-30 per aggregate fruit, ovoid-oblongoid, measuring 1-2.5 cm x 1-1.5 cm and black-brown. [2]

The seed is with one bifid cotyledon and endosperm that envelop the embryo as a thin membrane. [2]


No documentation

Chemical Constituent

No documentation

Plant Part Used

No documentation

Traditional Use

No documentation

Preclinical Data

No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing



Figure 1: The line drawing of N. nucifera [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1 Nelumbo nucifera Gaertn. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Apr 18; cited 2015 Jul 27]. Available from:
  2. Nelumbo nucifera Gaertner In: Flach M, Rumawas F, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 9: Plants yielding non-seed carbohydrates. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher; 1996.
  3. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 2. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR; 2002. p. 127.
  4. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume IV M-Q. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press; 2012. p. 256-257.