Lotus edulis is an annual plant with more or less prostrate stem; the stems can grow 10 - 40cm long[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is occasionally cultivated as a food plant, mainly in southern Italy[
Throughout the Mediterranean, but absent from Libya
Sandy, stony and rocky places[
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Lotus edulis is a plant of the warm temperate to subtropical zone. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 15 - 24°c, but can tolerate 4 - 28°c[
]. The plant can survive temperatures down to about -2°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 500 - 700mm, but tolerates 300 - 900mm[
Grows best in a sunny position, but tolerant of light shade[
]. It prefers a light-textured soil, but can tolerate most well-drained soils, fruiting best where fertility is either low or moderate[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 - 7.5, tolerating 6 - 8[
The plant has given fairly good yields of seedpods on our Cornish trial grounds, (hardiness zone 8), though it is more difficult to ripen the seed in our damper climate[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
]. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen.
Young seedpods - raw or cooked[
]. The pods are a bit small and fiddly (they are about 3cm long) but they have quite a pleasant taste eaten raw, rather like French Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)[
Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow in situ in the spring. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 4 weeks at 15°c.
If seed is in short supply, it can be sown in pots in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in late spring or early summer.