Nelumbo nucifera is a rhizome perennial aquatic plant that lives in the mud at the bottom of shallow pools, lakes, lagoons, swamps and flooded fields. The large, shield-shaped leaves float or rise above the surface of the water on 1 - 2 m long petioles. The petiole is light green, cylindrical, bare and sometimes spiny. The leaf blade is 20-90 cm in diameter, soft green to blue-green. The leaf margin is smooth and wavy. The leaf blade shows a central depression where the petiole and the leaf blade meet. The veins depart radially from this central point.