Nelumbo nucifera ‘White Lotus’ | ‘Bean of India’ | 7g dried flowers
Organically farmed in India, this dried Nelumbo nucifera (syn. Nelumbium speciosum, Nelumbo komarovii, Nymphaea nelumbo) comprises material from the ‘White Lotus’ variety of the species. An aquatic member of the family Nelumbonaceae, the species is known by many informal names, including ‘Bean of India’, ‘East Indian Lotus’, ‘Egyptian Bean’, ‘Indian Lotus’, ‘Lotus’ and ‘Sacred Lotus’ and ‘Sacred Water Lotus’. Native to a very wide range throughout central and northern India, northern Indochina and east Asia, the species now also occurs (likely due to human interference) in southeast Asia, northern and eastern Australia, southern India, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka.
Nucifera grows from long roots that are embedded into the pond or riverbed where it is situated. Horizontally, this species can reach up to approximately three metres across. Its leaves (up to sixty centimetres or so in diameter) either float on the water’s surface or else are held above it by the plant’s thick stems, which grow up to roughly a metre and a half tall. Indescribably fantastic flowers form from the upper parts of the stems, reaching to roughly twenty centimetres in diameter. Remarkably, the species is one of only three known to regulate the temperature of its flowers (possibly to attract coldblooded insect pollinators). The other two species are Philodendron selloum and Symplocarpus foetidus.
Under ideal conditions, Nelumbo nucifera seeds can remain viable for a great number of years (the oldest recorded germination was in 1994, of Chinese seeds roughly one thousand three hundred years old). ‘Sacred Lotus’ has been cultivated for its edible seeds for over three thousand years and is very popular as an elegant component of ornamental water gardens.
Many Asian countries (notably China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam) consider the plant’s crunchy rhizomes a vegetable, eating the starchy delicacy fresh, fried, as flour, in salads, in soups, in syrup, in vinegar, stuffed or in tea. Moreover, the leaves, petals, seeds and stems are all edible too (and widely eaten), but all except the seeds are best cooked, to minimise the risk of parasite transmission.
In Japan, nucifera rhizomes account for approximately 1% of the total number of vegetables consumed in the country each year – it still imports over 18,000 tons each year (mainly from China), even though it grows its own supply. Other uses for the plant include as food wrapping (the leaves), as decoration (the petals and seeds), to make fabric for the Buddha in Myanmar (the fibres) and even (potentially) as wastewater treatment!
The ‘Sacred Lotus’ is also the national flower of both India and Vietnam and features on the flag of Macau. It’s also the state flower of various Indian states, including Andhra Pradesh, Haryana and Karnataka. Sacred to Buddhists, Confucians and Hindus, Nelumbo nucifera is reputed to possess anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties and its extracts have consequently been used for many years by indigenous healers of various traditions. Examples of this include treating cholera, diarrhoea, epistaxis, fever, hematemesis, haematuria and hyperdipsia.
All the botanicals sold by Arkham’s Botanical were freshly and organically sourced