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 Nelumbo subsp. var.  
Nelumbo nucifera (Lotus)
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Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Nelumbo (Ceylonese name). Usually written Nelumbium. Nymphaeaceae. Nelumbium. Two strong- growing aquatics, one yellow-flowered and native to North America, the other white or cyanic-flowered and native of the Orient.

From Nymphaea, or the true water-lilies, Nelumbo differs technically in having distinct carpels, which are imbedded in the receptacle, with a single ovule in each. Nelumbiums have strong and thick and usually tuber- bearing rhizomes, which creep in the earth in the bottoms of ponds and slow streams: lvs. peltate, orbicular or nearly so, entire, usually very large and long-petioled and mostly standing high above the water (floating when from young plants or in deep water) : fls. large and showy, single, on peduncles which equal or exceed the lvs. ; sepals 4 or 5; petals many, erect or erect-spreading; stamens many, on broad, short filaments: fr. a large, flat-topped perforated receptacle, in which are immersed the many carpels. The bold and characteristic form of the nelumbiums lends itself well to conventional designs.

Nelumbiums are bold plants, suitable for large ponds and for masses. They may be grown in tubs, or better in the open pond, as the rhizomes may run 30 or 40 feet in a year. N. lutea flowers well only when thoroughly established and in entire freedom; it is sometimes crowded put by N. nucifera. The latter species, commonly but incorrectly known as Egyptian lotus, is one of the best of large pond plants, being grown for its stately habit and showy flowers. Its roots should not freeze. Covering the pond with boards and litter, or filling it with water, may be made to afford ample protection.

Nelumbium in cultivation.

Whilst it may be historically true that the Egyptian lotus is not a Nelumbium, the Nelumbium speciosum (or more properly Nelumbo nucifera) is everywhere known under that name, and it has been so distributed in good faith. In fact, it is doubtful whether it is worth while to change the common name at this time.

America may be honestly proud of possessing such a fine aquatic plant as Nelumbo lutea, the well-known American lotus. While China and Japan are the recognized homes of the splendid Nelumbo nucifera, they do not possess a yellow lotus. In the central states and near the Great Lakes, N. lutea is found in abundance, but it is scarce in the Middle Atlantic and eastern states. When well established it is a magnificent plant, and when in blossom it is a sight worth traveling miles to see.

Nelumbiums, with nympheas and other aquatic plants, were among the few flowers known or cultivated by the ancients. No mention is made in history of a yellow lotus prior to the discovery of America by white men, but over four centuries ago it was well known to the Indians and cultivated by them in the waters of the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, and was abundant on the tributaries of the Mississippi. It was carried northward and eastward by the Indians, and was established as far east as Connecticut. At the present time (1914). it is established and cultivated in most of the states of the Union.

The late Isaac Buchanan received tubers of N. nucifera from Japan, which were planted in a stream on Long Island, but there they perished. Later, other efforts were made, and some tubers from the same source were received and planted by Samuel Henshaw in an artificial pond in the gardens of the late Mr. Green, at New Brighton, Staten Island, New York, where they grew most satisfactorily, some of the original stock being still in evidence on the estate.

About the same time E. D. Sturtevant, of Bordentown, New Jersey, who had introduced a number of tender water-lilies into commerce, and knowing of its being grown in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris, made an examination of the condition under which it existed there and determined to experiment in the culture at Bordentown. New Jersey. Roots were obtained from Kew Gardens and afterward planted in shallow water in a sheltered spot in a millpond near Bordentown. Here the plant grew amazingly, and its success and hardiness were fully established. From here was disseminated the now famous Egyptian lotus, Nelumbo nucifera, to all parts of the United States. Several varieties have since then been introduced from Japan, including white and delicately tinted varieties, also deep rose, and double forms of both white and rose.

The cultivation of the nelumbium is of the simplest. The roots or tubers should not be transplanted until there is evidence of growth, as the tubers, being usually buried deep in the soil below the water and out of the reach of frost, are not affected by the warm rays of sunshine as early as nympheas and other terrestrial plants. If nelumbiums are dug before they start into growth, the tubers should be kept in a warm place or planted where the temperature is such that growth will begin at once. In the Middle Atlantic States and eastward and westward, May is the best time to transplant; southward earlier. Tubers may be planted in shallow water near the margin of the pond where it is intended they shall grow. The tuber should be placed horizontally in the soil, first making a little trench or opening to receive the same and covering with about 3 inches of soil. Means must be employed to keep the tuber securely in position and, if necessary, a stone or brick laid over the tuber. When the season is late or circumstances delay the planting season until June, it will be safer to secure plants in pots or tubs. These, beside being somewhat advanced, will transplant with a greater degree of certainty and more satisfactory results. In artificial ponds a walled section should be built to hold the soil and keep the roots within bounds. The walls should have no corners at right angles; where there are such they should be rounded off, so that the runners are not intercepted and crowded in bunches at the corners. The natural soil and deposits in ponds are, in most cases, all that is required for these plants. They will flourish equally well in a stiff or tenacious soil, but when grown in artificial ponds it is best to use a mixture of two parts turfy loam and one part thoroughly rotted cow-manure. Do not use fresh or green manure, and when possible have sods cut in the fall and stacked with the manure (in this case it may be fresh). In early spring, have the same turned over two or three times before using. Resort may be had to cultivation in tubs, but the lotus being such a gross feeder, the result in most cases is that the plants arc starved into rest at an early date. The leaves turn a. sickly yellow and present a sorry appearance, and in many cases produce no flowers. If no other method can be adopted, then secure the largest tubs possible and during the growing season use liquid or artificial manure liberally. An excellent method to grow nelumbiums under artificial conditions is to excavate a hole 5 to 6 feet in diameter and 2 ½ feet deep with slightly sloping sides. Have a form in readiness to place inside the excavation, leaving about 4 inches clear for concrete. The form can be of light material, the size of the pool desired, so braced as to hold the concrete in place until set. Place heavy chicken wire netting in the opening for reinforcement and secure in place when filling so as to be in the center of wall. When finished, this makes an ideal pool for nelumbiums or water-lilies, watertight and frostproof. Use two bags Portland cement, three wheelbarrows of sand and five wheelbarrows gravel or finely broken stone.

It must be understood that while the nelumbiums are hardy, they are so only as long as the tubers are out of the reach of frost. The depth to which frost penetrates the soil or water may be termed a dead-line. .

The tubers are farinaceous and edible, and are of considerable market value in Japan, but a taste must first be cultivated for them in the United States. The muskrat, however, has developed a highly cultivated taste for these sacred morsels, and it is necessary to watch these animals lest they take up their abode near ponds where the nelumbiums grow. There are now in cultivation in the United States a dozen or more varieties, including single and double forms, pure white to deep rose, and yellow.

As to insect pests, black-fly or black aphis is sometimes troublesome. The best remedy is the lady-bird beetle and its larva. Also spray with tobacco water. The leaf-cutter, or roller, is prevalent in some sections, and both young and old leaves are attacked, also the stems of the leaves and flowers. These have their natural enemies in the form of wasps and even sparrows, and as no liquid insecticide can be used, only such as are in the shape of a dry powder can be depended on. Paris green, mixed with land plaster or plaster and powdered slaked lime, is excellent, but dry hellebore in powder- form, or slugshot applied by a powder bellows is the best material to exterminate them. A borer in the leafstalks sometimes does great damage, killing nearly all the leaves, so that no blooms are made. Apply "slug- shot" with a bellows. Sometimes the diseased leaves are mowed off and destroyed, and a second growth may escape the borers.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



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