Lotus is a perennial water plant. It grows throughout the Middle East and Asia. In China, it is cultivated in Hunan, Fiangsu, Fujiang, and Zhejiang provinces.
Its first leaves float on surface of the water like a water lily, then subsequent leaf growth reaches up into the air. The leaves are round, and can be as large 20 inches (50 cm) wide.
It produces flower stalks, which blossom with pink or white flowers that can be 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 cm) wide. The flowers last 2 to 5 days.
The flower petals can be used fresh in delicate soups or as a salad garnish, or can be dried and used in other dishes.
The roots and seeds are also eaten.
Lotus is native to southern Asia. It was introduced into Egypt by the Romans.