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  Flora Wildflowers / Sacred Lotus

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Sacred Lotus

Nelumbo nucifera     Fr: Lotus sacré; Lotus des Indes

 Lotus, Sacred photo lotus-sacred0010b.jpg

This huge, exotique water plant is growing profusely at L'étang de Fontmerle, southeast of Mougins. Huge pink flowers, completely covering the little lake (étang), standing up about 1 m, with enormous leaves covering the water completely.

We don't know how they arrived or what got them started, but they are happy with their home here.

Nelumbo nucifera is known by a number of common names, including Sacred Lotus, Red Lotus, Indian Lotus Bean of India and Sacred Water-lily. Botanically, Nelumbo nucifera (Gaertn.) is sometimes known by its former names, Nelumbium speciosum (Willd.), or Nymphaea nelumbo. This plant is an aquatic perennial. In ancient times it was common along the banks of the River Nile in Egypt along with the closely related Sacred Blue Lotus of the Nile (Nymphaea caerulea); and the flowers, fruit and sepals of both were widely depicted as architectural motifs where sacred images were called for. The Pharoic Egyptians venerated the Lotus and used it in worship. From Egypt it was carried to Assyria and became widely planted throughout Persia, India and China. It may also have been locally indiginous throughout Indo-China but there is doubt about this. In 1787 it was first brough into horticulture in Western Europe as a stove-house water-lily under the patronage of Sir Joseph Banks and can be seen in modern botanical garden collections where heating is provided. Today it is rare or extinct in the wild in Africa but widely naturalised in southern Asia and Australia, where it is commonly cultivated in water gardens. It is the National Flower of India.

The roots of Nelumbo nucifera are planted in the soil of the pond or river bottom, while the leaves float on top of the water surface. The flowers are usually found on thick stems rising several centimeters above the water. The plant normally grows up to a height of about 150 cm and a horizontal spread of up to 3 meters, but some unverified reports place the height as high as over 5 meters. The leaves may be as large as 60 cm in diameter, while the showy flowers can be up to 20 cm in diameter.


Comments. Beyond is especially thankful to Harry Thomas, Caty Wijn, and Jenny Chan who identified our "unknown Fontmerle" for us.

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