(This post originally published in July, 2010) – Note: Due to the Midwest drought, I was unable to kayak and photograph the American Lotus here this year … hopefully, I will be able to in 2013 :o)
I’m going to highlight the American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea) in this post. The area where I kayak in the summer has American Lotus plants all over the place, 20 acres worth! To be truthful, I have a love-hate relationship with this plant. On the love side, it is a beautiful plant and does attract a lot of wildlife for me to photograph. It also helps me to “hide” from wildlife there, sort of a “self-camoflouging effect”. On the hate side, the American Lotus drastically cuts down the available area for me to kayak in. There is very little open water in the summer, due to the tremendous Lotus growth; and when I can struggle through it, it is so noisy that I’m sure any nearby wildlife is thinking a herd of elephants is coming through the greenery! Also on the hate side, the Diamondback Water Snakes like to slither about under the canopy of the Lotus plants … many insects, frogs, and other prey can often be found among the large lilies and overhead leaves. So now that I’ve got my complaining out of the way, how do I really feel about the American Lotus? Well, all things said, the scales tip towards the love side … yeh, just too many plus-es not to love it! Here is an illustration of how dense the American Lotus can be (pretty much in the center of this image is the “pathway” I have to follow to go through this growth, back to the launch area):
Early in the summer, the American Lotus will throw a stem up to the water’s surface, and a lily pad that lies on the surface. This is kinda cool as the pads give the small critters, such as water spiders, frogs, and even dragonflies a place to land. Shortly after, a long stem grows up out of the water and forms a flower bud overhead that can be anywhere from 6″ to 2′-3′ high. Also, a stalk grows up with a large (up to 2-foot in diameter) leaf. Here is a flower bud in it’s early stage of development:
Once the bud opens, a beautiful flower emerges:
The American Lotus flowers attract many different insects that look for nectar from the flower:
Photographically, shooting an American Lotus flower when it is backlit can give some really nice results of lights and shadows:
The American Lotus also offers some great opportunities for macro photography:
The American Lotus, although difficult to maneuver a kayak through, is a wonderful little plant that adds so much biodiversity to the location. Many small critters find shelter in this plant’s heavy cover (i.e., frogs, insects, small fish) while other critters (i.e., birds, water snakes, turtles) hunt among the Lotus growth for food. And bees of all kinds find the nectar inviting. Everything considered, I give it a “Thumbs Up” rating!
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