Saturday, April 2, 2011

Lotus Plants

Lotuses are five species of water lilies, three in the genus Nymphaea and two in Nelumbo, both genera are members of the water Lilly family. Nymphaceae, lotus is also the name of a genus in the pea family, Leguminosae, which contains such plants as the bird's foot trefoil, L. comiculatus.

Nymphaea lotus, the Egyptian white lotus, is believed to the original secred lotus of ancient Egypt. It and the Egyptian blue lotus. N. caerullea, were often pictured in ancient Egyptian art. The white lotus is a shallow water, night blooming plant with a creeping rootstock (rhizome) that sends up long stalked, nearly circular, dark green leathery leaves, which float on the surface. The flowers, up to 25 cm (10 in) across, remain open until midday. The blue lotus is a smaller, less showy, day-blooming plant. The indian blue lotus, Nstellata, differs from the blue Egyptian species largely in its leaves.

Nelumbo contains but two species. The American lotus, N lutea, is found in the eastern half of the United States into southern Canada. It has a thick, spreading rootstock and large, circular, bluish green leaves that are usually raised above the surface of the water. The pale yellow flowers usually open on three successive days. The East Indian lotus, N. nucifera of southern Asia, has been a sacred symbol in many cultures.


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