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Sacred Lotus

(Nelumbo nucifera)

Photo of sacred lotus
Photo credit: Rebecca Wallace, UGA,

A very showy perennial aquatic plant native to the warmer regions of Asia. It is considered invasive due to the large, dense colonies it can produce if released into natural areas from cultivation.


Other names for this plant
  • Common names: Asian lotus, Indian lotus
  • Scientific names: Nelumbium speciosum, Nelumbo speciosa, Nelumbium nelumbo
Ecological threat
  • Dense mats of floating vegetation can inhibit other native aquatic vegetation, decreasing biodiversity.
  • It can affect other wildlife by blocking access to the water and/or reducing plants the animals depend on for shelter and nesting.
  • The dense floating mats of vegetation can negatively affect boating, angling and swimming.
 Overview map of prohibited classification in WI
Prohibited (red) counties

Classification in Wisconsin: Prohibited

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for sacred lotus was based upon this literature review [PDF] developed by the department.


Leaves: Medium to blue-green leaves float or are held above the water. They are hairless with smooth edges that may undulate up and down. Leaves are large and showy, one-half to three feet across with many radiating veins.

Flowers: Very showy flowers held up to six feet above the water. They have 12-15 pink petals with showy yellow stamens around a central large receptacle. Flowers are four to eight inches across.

Fruits & seeds: After the short-lived flower blooms, the central seed pod remains. It turns from green to brown in color and these are often used in dried floral arrangements. Individual seeds form in the pod and may remain viable for extremely long times.

Roots: Thick rhizomes with fibrous roots; this plant can reproduce by rhizome as well as seed.

Similar species: Very similar to American lotus (Nelumbo lutea), it can be distinguished by flower color; American lotus has yellow flowers. Cultivars may have color variation, usually pale pink.


Mechanical: Very small populations can be controlled by pulling. Physical removal should be completed before the flowering and seed set.

Chemical: Aquatic approved herbicides may control populations. The application of aquatic herbicide will require a permit.


View sacred lotus pictures in our photo gallery.


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