Quick facts for kidsNelumbo
Nelumbo lutea (American lotus)
The Sacred lotus of Asia has pink flowers. The American lotus has yellow flowers.
The lotus flowers grow over the water. Lotus leaves often float on top of the water. The roots of lotus plants are in the mud (wet dirt) under the water. Every part of every plant must have air for respiration (breathing). Air spaces in the stems and roots make the lotus able to live and respire under water.
People can eat lotus roots and seeds. Cattle (cows) like to eat the leaves and flowers.
The leaves of nelumbo are highly water-repellent (i.e. they exhibit ultrahydrophobicity) and have given the name to what is called the lotus effect. Ultrahydrophobicity involves two criteria: a very high water contact angle between the droplet of water and the leaf surface, and a very low roll-off angle. This means that the water must contact the leaf surface at exactly one, miniscule point, and any manipulation of the leaf by changing its angle will result in the water droplet rolling off of the leaf.
A unique property of the genus Nelumbo is that it can generate heat., which it does by using the alternative oxidase pathway (AOX). This pathway involves a different, alternative exchange of electrons from the usual pathway that electrons follow when generating energy in mitochondria, known as the AOX, or alternative oxidase pathway.
Other plants that utilize thermoregulation in their life cycles are the eastern skunk cabbage, which heats itself up in order to melt any ice above it and push through the ground in very early spring, the elephant yam, which also heats up its flowers to attract pollinators, and the carrion flower, which heats itself up to disperse water vapor through the air to carry its scent further from the flower to attract more pollinators.
Images for kids
Nelumbo nucifera bud
Nelumbo Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.