There are about 90 species of the water-lily family (Nymphaeaceae), many of which have served as food. The “sacred lotus” (Nelumbo nucifera), for example, is a perennial aquatic plant of India that was carried to China and to Egypt, where it was consumed at least 4,000 years ago. The poor in Egypt frequently have eaten the seeds and rhizome of the Egyptian lotus (Nymphaea lotus), boiled, dried, and ground into flour. Native Americans employed the yellow American marsh lotus (Nelumbo lutea) in much the same fashion, and the women would gather the roots of plants of the genus Nuphar from the lairs of beavers and muskrats that had collected them for their own use. The Chinese have eaten the rhizome of their pink lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) since ancient times and have used lotus leaves for wrapping food. In India, lotus is employed in curries, and all Asians appreciate its crunchy texture and its appearance. The tuberous roots have air tunnels, so that, when sliced, the crisp round looks like a piece of Swiss cheese or - perhaps a better description - a lacy-patterned snowflake. Lotus roots are sliced, chopped, and grated for soups, salads, and stir-frying.
Common names and synonyms: American marsh lotus, blue lotus, blue water lily, Chinese pink lotus, Egyptian lotus flower, Hindu sacred lotus, Libyan lotus, lotus root, water lily, water-lily tuber.
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A name given to many plants. For example, by the Egyptians to various species of water lily, by the Hindus and Chinese to the nelumbo (a water bean)
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