< Primlarp Wasuwat Chukiatman and Dr. Slearmlarp (Sam) Wasuwat

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Awakening Thai Lotuses

From the presentation of Dr.Slearmlarp Wasuwat
on the Economic Development of Nelumbo and Nymphaea for the National Economic Conference 2009
at Naresuan University, Pitsanuloke, Thailand
Edited for WGI Online by Sqn. Ldr.
Primlarp Wasuwat Chukiatman
Click images to enlarge

Eight hundred years ago, the first King of Thailand grew water plants to ornament his palace at Sukhothai (photo above). Two of them were local lotuses. At present, the palace and adjacent provinces, Phitsanulok, Kamphaeng Phet, Phichit and Nakhon Sawan, are the main wetland areas of lotuses of the northern region.

The two local Thai lotuses are believed to be the same as Hindu lotus (single white), left, and Sacred lotus (single pink), right.

Cut flower arrangement
Natural products from flowers, seed, and roots (shoots and rhizomes) of these two varieties have been used for religious ceremonies, medicines and foods in Thailand for a long time. Growing lotus commercially is mainly for cut flowers.

Cut flowers for export

N. 'Album Plenum'
Two popular cultivars, possibly from Sri Langka or other countries, are the white ‘Album Plenum’ and the pink ‘Roseum Plenum’. Those two varieties set seed only a little. Most growers harvest shoots for multiplication and food. Thai farmers always harvest flowers for religious ceremonies.

N. 'Roseum Plenum'

The situations that made me wonder and start to look closely lotus at in Thailand were: the present of ornamental lotuses from PR China and Japan to HM Queen Sirikit of Thailand in 2001, and the development of lotus as an economic plant in Australia. 
 After that year I collected many varieties of lotus in different parts of Thailand several times, along with group of younger friends such as Dr. N. Nopchai Chansipa (Waterlily and Lotus Germplasm Bank, Rajamangala University of Technology Tawan-ok), Dr. Niran Juntawong (Department of Botany Faculty of Science, Kasetsart University), Dr. Sumay Arunyanart (Faculty of Agricultural Technology, King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang), many farmer friends and my daughter. We made field trips together and collected native lotus found in the northern and northeastern part of Thailand. Today I grow those 60 samples of lotus in my backyard and observe them. I have found that they can be separated into four groups. Examples of the four groups are as follows:
Group 1: Large size with single flowers - full growing size higher than 0.50 m (1.6’) – petals not more than 20  

^ Bua Rachinee - Compare me with Bua Rachinee >


Group 2: Medium or small size with single flowers - full growing size not higher than 0.50 m (1.6’) – petals not more than 20 

^ No. 36 Lotus
< Bangyai Lotus


^ Patamo-Bon
< Patama Prachuap

Group 3: Medium or small size with semi-double flowers - full growing size not higher than 0.50 m (1.6’) – petals between 21-50 

^ No. 16 Lotus >


Group 4: Medium or small size with semi-double flowers - full growing size not higher than 0.50 m (1.6’) – petals more than 51

No. 14 Lotus

No. 17 Lotus

No. 18 Lotus

No. 21 Lotus

My own experiences, observations and conclusions about lotus in Thailand.

1. Lotus is an independent crop. It wants to grow freely any place it likes. 

2. To control it, you have to grow it in closed containers. Thai lotus seems to like terracotta containers best. 

3. Thai lotus growers favor growing the plant by shoot because it produces flower earlier than grown by rhizome.


 4. Some lotus planters believe that these yellow and green receptacles of white double lotus is influenced by light-photosynthesis. Can anyone clarify?

5. Environment, genetics or insects -- which one has more influence on seed setting of lotus?
6. About to mature lotus seed pods that face horizontally are liked by mice and birds.

7. Many lotus cultivars given to Thailand by two big brothers, P.R. China and Japan, do not produce flowers.

8. Location, environment and clones create differential characteristics in lotus evidentially. How about depth of water?

9. What do you think of rich genetic diversity of the two Thai lotuses, 100 kilometers (62 miles) apart? 

Is anyone interested in searching for more lotuses in Thailand? You may find many kinds of lotus waiting for you! 


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