The American Lotus or Yellow Lotus is a rare blooming plant that grows in marshes. There are few spots in Michigan that boast having these beautiful flowers, but at Kensington Metropark, they are blooming in abundance.
Part of the Lily family of flowers, the American Lotus flowering plant has been on the endangered species list. The bright yellow blossom can reach a foot wide and the inner receptacle is a darker yellow. These flowers grow in the shallow waters of marshes and wetlands and have leaves that are similar to that of a lily pad. Interestingly, the petals of the flower actually repel water. They are rare in Michigan, but they end up spreading vastly in the few areas that do have them.
It is no surprise that the Yellow Lotus is thriving on Kent Lake in Kensington Metropark. The same area ends itself well to the waterfowl. Egrets, herons, sandhill cranes, and other birds already call this park in Milford, MI their home. They too enjoy the shallow march environments. In fact, they are an invasive species, in fact, and that is evident when you take a boat ride through Kent Lake to see the large area filled with these colorful floating flowers. They have been known to take over shallow waterways, preventing fishing and even making it difficult for boats to pass through.
The American Lotus is an edible plant. Natives used to cook the leaves and the seeds can either be eaten raw when they are young or they can be dried out and popped in the microwave, like popcorn. However, they are considered endangered and are, therefore, illegal to pick. It is the only aquatic wildflower in MI that is protected. They tend to make their appearance and disappear over the years because the birds eat the seeds though. Also, as the season comes to end, the flower dies off, the stalk winds down into the base to form a bulb, and that attracts other animal life, like beavers, musrkrat, and deer.
While the American Lotus is an invasive wildflower, it is also a beautiful and protected aquatic plant. The peak time of year to see the American Lotus is late July through mid August and they are in full bloom at Kensington Metropark now.