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.

One thought on “Island of the Lotus Eaters

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

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