Island of the Lotus Eaters

American water lotus blossom

American water lotus blossom, photo by Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. 1995. Northeast wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. Northeast National Technical Center, Chester

Late summer is a good time to collect graines a voler, the green seeds of the American water lotus plant.  The graine a voler (french for “flying seed”) is a large, showy plant native to Louisiana’s freshwater marshes; 3′ wide lily pads held above the surface of the water produce longstemmed white lotus blossoms.  After the flowers fade, a 4-6″ wide half-spherical seedpod forms–these pods are often dried & used in flower arrangements.  As the pod dries, the seeds pop out with great force (hence the name). 

Here’s an article from the Lafourche Daily Comet about the harvesting & eating of graines a voler in the freshwater marshes of Lafourche Parish; the article attributes this activity to Cajuns, but it is almost certainly a practice they learned from the native peoples who first lived in south Louisiana.

And here’s the USDA plant information database record on the water lotus, with lots of nifty info.

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One thought on “Island of the Lotus Eaters

  1. Pingback: A Wonderful South Louisiana Food Blog | folo

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