Rootstock stout, nearly horizontal, tuberiferous, in mud beneath 2 to 6 feet of water. Leaves 1 to 2 feet broad, orbicular, or somewhat constricted in the middle, centrally peltate, floating or raised a foot or two out of the water, prominently veined, smooth and dark green above, more or less pubescent and finely scaly beneath; leaf petioles and flower stems 3 to 7 feet long, rigid and tough, with several large air canals. Flowers pale yellow, fragrant, 4 to 10 inches broad; petals concave, obovate, blunt, numerous, surrounded by four or five overlapping scales. Carpels numerous, contained in pits in the large convex receptacle which becomes 3 to 4 inches long and obconic in fruit. Seeds about one-half of an inch in diameter.
In rivers and lakes, locally distributed from Massachusetts to Minnesota, Nebraska, Louisiana and Cuba. Flowering in August at Sodus bay, where a large colony of it exists. Tubers and seeds farinaceous and edible. The local distribution in the north may be due to introduction by the Indians. The Indian Lotus or Sacred Bean (Nelumbo nelumbo (Linnaeus) Karsten), with large pink flowers, is frequent in cultivation.
Memoir 15 N. Y. State Museum
American Nelumbo Or Lotus Nelumbo Lutea