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For Your Garden - May 2015

Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year.

water lotus (Nelumbo lutea)
Photo © Lance Merry

Water lotus grows in lakes, ponds and rivers in areas of standing water statewide. The stems are in the water, and the roots grow in mud under the water. The leaves are round and very large, from one to two and one-half feet in diameter. Each leaf is attached in the center to a long stalk and is usually held one to two feet above the water level. The leaf is depressed in the center resulting in somewhat of a bowl shape. The flowers are produced on separate stalks from July through August. Flowers are typically pale yellow and may be 10 inches wide. The fruits are spherical nuts that may be one-half inch in diameter. The leaves of this plant provide shelter for wildlife and fishes.

Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.

Illinois Range

Native Plant Information

For more information about Illinois native plants, visit our Native Habitat Descriptions, Requirements, and Plant Lists page. The following publications are available from the IDNR on our publications page.


​Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliphyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Nymphaeales
Family: Nelumbonaceae

Illinois Status: common, native