Are Lotus flowers edible for humans?

Last Updated on March 1, 2023 by Derek

Indian Lotus Flowers (Nelumbo nucifera) are edible, being widely used in tea and cuisine. White Lotus (Nymphaea lotus) flowers, on the other hand, are often considered poisonous and only the rhizomes (roots) are eaten. Blue Lotus (Nymphea caerulea) is also considered poisonous but is widely consumed for medicinal purposes.

Key Takeaways:

  • Indian Lotus Flowers (Nelumbo nucifera) are edible and widely used in cuisine and tea.
  • White Lotus (Nymphaea lotus) flowers are poisonous, only the rhizomes (roots) are eaten, and the flowers have medicinal benefits.
  • Blue Lotus (Nymphea caerulea) flowers are poisonous, but widely consumed for medicinal purposes, with psychoactive and mood-altering effects.
  • Lotus flowers contain higher levels of beneficial chemicals than other parts of the plant.
  • Indian Lotus tea has many health benefits, including helping bowel health, lowering blood sugar levels, and being a laxative.
  • Blue and White Lotus flowers aren’t approved as edible for humans consumption by the FDA or any other US regulatory body, because they have psychoactive effects. They might be approved sometime in the future, so for the moment it’s best to consume only plant products that are deemed safe by a regulatory body.

    What does Lotus flower taste like?

    Facts you didn’t know about Lotus flowers

    Lotus flower has a mild, sweet flavour. Sometimes it has overtones of anise, or earthy flavours that may or may not be due to what it is cooked with.

    Though Indian Lotus is widely used in cuisine, the flowers themselves aren’t a bulk ingredient. Instead, they are usually used sparingly, much like an herb. To make this easier, these flowers are often dried so that they can be sprinkled into recipes.

    Whilst you can eat them raw, it is often more convenient to store them dried, and a better way of keeping them for a long time. After all, not everyone can go out and collect them on a regular basis.

    For more substantial Lotus flavour, and to add volume to a recipe, you should also include the rhizomes, which are not unlike tubers and contain a lot of starch. For fresh salads, you can use slices of raw Lotus stem or rhizome.


    Types of lotuses and whether you can eat them:

    Species:Edible parts:
    Indian Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) Flowers, leaves, stem, roots (rhizomes), seeds
    White Lotus (Nymphaea lotus)roots (rhizomes) edible, flowers may have medicinal benefits
    Blue Lotus (Nymphea caerulea)no parts edible, flowers may have medicinal benefits
    Which kinds of Lotus can be eaten safely?

    What does Lotus flower tea taste like?

    Are Lotus flowers edible?
    Indian Lotus flower

    One thing that is true of flowers is that they often contain higher levels of beneficial chemicals than other parts of a plant. This is also true of Lotus flowers. In Korea, Japan, and Vietnam Lotus tea is widely appreciated for its health benefits.

    The benefits of drinking Indian Lotus tea are numerous, but mainly associated with helping bowel health. Thanks to this, the drink has long had a place in both traditional eastern medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.

    Indian Lotus tea is often mixed with Green Tea and even fruit to enhance its flavour. This usually results in a light, floral taste, with hints of fruit and sometimes anise.

    White and Blue Lotus Tea has a more earthy, and less sweet flavour. Many people claim that it is similar to beetroot (beets). What it has in common with the Indian Lotus tea is that it often has a hint of anise.

    Conversely, most of the effects of Blue and White Lotus tea are psychoactive, or mood-altering. They are particularly useful for treating problem anxiety.

    Health Benefits of Lotus Flowers
    Benefit Description
    Improves digestion Lotus flowers contain fiber and tannins that aid in digestion and alleviate constipation.
    Boosts immunity The flavonoids and vitamin C in lotus flowers help strengthen the immune system and protect against infections.
    Reduces stress and anxiety The calming fragrance of lotus flowers has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety levels.
    Improves heart health Lotus flowers are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that help lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels, and prevent heart disease.
    Promotes healthy skin Lotus flowers contain natural moisturizers that hydrate the skin, and antioxidants that protect against damage from UV rays and environmental toxins.

    All types of Lotus tea can be made with fresh flowers or dried leaves/powder. If you use fresh flowers, make sure that they are washed thoroughly to reduce the risk of catching waterborne disease.

    National Center for Biotechnology

    Health benefits of Indian Lotus tea:

    • Improved digestion
    • Laxative effect
    • Lowering blood sugar levels
    • Traditionally, said to help treat Cholera

    Health benefits of Blue and White Lotus tea:

    • Anxiety relief
    • Sleeping aid
    • Relief from tremors associated with Parkinson’s disease

    Are Lotus flowers poisonous?

    Indian Lotus flower is widely consumed in salads, soups, teas, and eastern medicines. It is not poisonous.

    Blue and White Lotus flowers, on the other hand, are classified as poisonous by the American Food and Drug Association (FDA), which advises against buying or consuming them. This is mainly because they have yet to approve them for human consumption.

    In the future, the FDA may either approve Blue and White Lotus flowers for consumption or declare them a controlled substance. The main reason for this would be that they contain two psychoactive substances: Apomorphine and Nuciferine.

    These chemicals are loosely referred to as ‘hypnotics’ and are the reason behind the anxiety and insomnia relieving effects of the plants. Their overall effect is to induce sleep, though they are sometimes also associated with feelings of euphoria and positivity.

    University of Florida

    Can you eat lotus flowers?
    Blue Lotus flower

    Is Lotus flower a drug?

    Lotus flower is not technically a drug. Nonetheless, Blue and White Lotus flowers do contain psychoactive alkaloids, and may have the potential for abuse. So far, they have not been declared a prohibited substance, except for in the State of Louisiana. For now, many people consume them for their medicinal benefits, and feel that it is safe to do so.

    As with any herbal supplement, it is always advised to seek medical advice if you are unsure.

    What happens if you eat a Lotus flower in real life?

    If you eat an Indian Lotus flower, nothing will happen to you as far as poisoning goes. You will be completely fine, and you may in fact gain some health benefits. In eastern cultures, Indian Lotus has long been recognised as a healthy food and the flower is widely regarded as having benefits for bowel health.

    Conversely, if you eat a Blue or White Lotus flower, you could suffer ill effects. Although people have been consuming them for centuries, there is still limited scientific data on how poisonous – or not- they may be.

    As a general rule, it is best to only consume plant products that are deemed safe by a regulatory body, such as the FDA. Check with your doctor before using anything that is not yet labelled for human consumption.

    Lotus root

    It isn’t just the flowers of Lotus that can be eaten. The root is also widely favoured as a starch-based food ingredient. Another aspect in their favour is that they are high in fibre and many vitamins.

    The roots and stems of Indian lotus are more correctly referred to as Rhizomes. They anchor the plant to the floor of the pond or river that it grows in. In China, Sri Lanka, India, and Japan these rhizomes are a popular vegetable, and can be bought in any supermarket, either fresh or canned.

    In India in particular, they are a popular ingredient in curries. Texture wise, Lotus root is similar to potato. It can also be made into flour for baking, which is gluten-free and has a low glycaemic index.

    The roots of Blue and White Lotus are no longer harvested or eaten, and little is known about their potential as a food.

    What do lotus flowers taste like?
    White Lotus flower
    White Lotus Flower
    Common Name Botanical Name Soil pH Range Soil Type Sunshine Growing Zones
    White Lotus Flower Nelumbo nucifera 6.0 – 7.5 Rich, loamy Full sun 4-10

    Can Lotus stem be eaten?

    Most uses for Lotus involve the flower or the root (rhizome). That said, Lotus stems can also be added to recipes, from salads to curries. Asides from a subtle, earthy flavour, the stems have some incredible health benefits. They are exceedingly high in vitamin C, and contain essential minerals such as magnesium, copper, and iron.

    In traditional medicine, Indian Lotus stem is said to have similar benefits to the flowers. Namely, to help digestion and lower blood pressure.

    Though more research is needed, it is now known that the leaves and roots of Lotus are rich in antioxidants, so it is possible that these are found in good concentrations in the stem as well.

    Infographic: Infographic: Lotus Flowers and their uses

    Are Lotus flowers edible?
    Infographic: Lotus flowers and their uses

    Other uses of Lotus flower

    On the most important uses for Lotus flowers is decorative. Even if you never want to eat them, they certainly make a statement in an ornamental pond. As long as your climate is reasonably mild, Lotuses will become perennial and flower regularly.

    The Blue Lotus in particular is very striking, as there aren’t many blue or baby blue flowers that grow in water. Aquatic pink flowers, as you see on the Indian Lotus are also uncommon and very attractive.

    Hawaii Univ.

    FAQ relating to eating Lotus flowers

    Here are six frequently asked questions (FAQ) about whether Lotus flowers are edible for humans:

    Can humans eat Lotus flowers?

    Yes, some species of Lotus flowers are edible for humans.

    Which parts of the Lotus flower are edible?

    Typically, the Lotus flower’s petals, seeds, and rhizomes (roots) are edible.

    Are all Lotus flowers edible?

    No, not all species of Lotus flowers are edible for humans. It’s important to consult with an expert in horticulture or nutrition before consuming any Lotus plant.

    Are there any safety concerns related to eating Lotus flowers?

    Yes, some species of Lotus plants may contain alkaloids or other compounds that can be harmful if consumed in large quantities. It’s important to seek expert advice and consume Lotus flowers in moderation.

    How are Lotus flowers typically prepared for consumption?

    Lotus flowers are typically eaten raw, pickled, or cooked in soups or stews. The seeds can be roasted and eaten as a snack.

    What are the nutritional benefits of eating Lotus flowers?

    Lotus flowers contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and they are a good source of fiber. They have also been used in traditional medicine for their potential health benefits. However, more research is needed to fully understand their nutritional and medicinal properties.

    Other resources related to Lotus flowers:

    The Secret Meaning of the Lotus Flower – Town & Country …

    Lotus Flowers: The History, Symbolism & Meaning Of This …

    Lotus Flower

    Lotus Flowers: History, Meaning, Properties, Growth & Care

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