American lotus seed pods

Sunday, September 25, 2011

These are seed pods of a native aquatic plant called the American lotus.The American lotus is recognized as an emergent plant because of its ability to seemingly appear from nowhere and fill a shallow lake. Its living root system stays hidden for many months during late autumn, throughout winter and into the spring.

In spring, slender stalks begin growing underwater, eventually reaching the surface.A platterlike leaf about 15 inches in diameter will grow on the stem.Large beautiful white or slightly yellowish flowers with yellow centers soon follow.

During midsummer, the flower petals begin to fall away, revealing the odd-looking seed pods that are still green and growing.In time, each pod grows larger and larger, up to maybe 5 or more inches across until the seeds mature. The pods will then die and turn brown.American lotus seed pods have the ability to hold onto the seeds inside and float to new places once the attachment to the dying stem is broken.

All parts of the American lotus are edible to humans.American Indians used the lotus for food. The American lotus is a symbol of purity, hope, beauty and rebirth.

Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at the Painted Wren Gallery.

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