|Nelumbo nucifera |
A common misconception is referring to the lotus as a waterlily (Nymphaea), an entirely different plant as can be seen from the center of the flower, which clearly lacks the structure that goes on to form the distinctive circular seed pod in the Nelumbo nucifera. Waterlilies come in various colors, whereas the lotus has flowers ranging in hues of white to hot pink.
Native to Tropical Asia and Queensland, Australia, it is commonly cultivated in water gardens. The white and pink lotuses are national flowers of India and Vietnam, respectively.
ClassificationPlant taxonomy systems agree that this flower is in the Nelumbo genus, but disagree as to which family Nelumbo is in, or whether it should be part of its own unique family and order tree.
Researchers report that the lotus has the remarkable ability to regulate the temperature of its flowers to within a narrow range just as humans and other warmblooded animals do. Dr. Roger S. Seymour and Dr. Paul Schultze-Motel, physiologists at the University of Adelaide in Australia, found that lotus flowers blooming in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens maintained a temperature of 30–35°C (86–95°F), even when the air temperature dropped to 10°C (50°F). They suspect the flowers may be doing this to attract coldblooded insect pollinators. The study, published in the journal Nature, is the latest discovery in the esoteric field of heat-producing plants. Two other species known to be able to regulate their temperature include Symplocarpus foetidus and Philodendron selloum.
The traditional Sacred Lotus is distantly related to Nymphaea caerulea, and possesses similar chemistry. Both Nymphaea caerulea and Nelumbo nucifera contain the alkaloids nuciferine and aporphine.
Useswatering cansphoto, are widely sold throughout the world for decorative purposes and for dried flower arranging.
The flowers, seeds, young leaves, and "roots" (rhizomes) are all edible. In Asia, the petals are used sometimes for garnish, while the large leaves are used as a wrap for food, not frequently eaten (for example, as a wrapper for zongzi). In Korea, the leaves and petals are used as a tisane. Yeonkkotcha (연꽃차) is made with dried petals of white lotus and yeonipcha (연잎차) is made with the leaves. Young lotus stems are used as a salad ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine. The rhizome (called ǒu (藕) in pinyin Chinese, ngau in Cantonese, bhe in Hindi, renkon (レンコン, 蓮根 in Japanese), yeongeun (연근) in Korean) is used as a vegetable in soups, deep-fried, stir-fried, and braised dishes and the roots are also used in traditional Asian herbal medicine. Petals, leaves, and rhizome can also all be eaten raw, but there is a risk of parasite transmission (e.g., Fasciolopsis buski): it is therefore recommended that they be cooked before eating.
Lotus rootlets are often pickled with rice vinegar, sugar, chili and/or garlic. It has a crunchy texture with sweet-tangy flavours. In Asian cuisine, it is popular with salad, prawns, sesame oil and/or coriander leaves. Lotus roots have been found to be rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, copper, and manganese, while very low in saturated fat.
The stamens can be dried and made into a fragrant herbal tea called liánhuā cha (蓮花茶) in Chinese, or (particularly in Vietnam) used to impart a scent to tea leaves. The lotus seeds or nuts (called liánzĭ, 蓮子; or xian liánzĭ, 鲜莲子, in Chinese) are quite versatile, and can be eaten raw or dried and popped like popcorn, phool makhana. They can also be boiled until soft and made into a paste, or boiled with dried longans and rock sugar to make a tong sui (sweet soup). Combined with sugar, lotus seed paste becomes one of the most common ingredients used in pastries such as mooncakes, daifuku, and rice flour pudding.
In Vietnam, the bitter tasting germs of the lotus seeds are also made into a tisane (trà tim sen).
A unique fabric from the lotus plant fibers is produced only at Inle lake, Union of Myanmar and is used for weaving special robes for Buddha images called kya thingahn (lotus robe).
Cultural significanceAsian traditions representing the virtues of sexual purity and non-attachment.
Hindus revere it with the divinities Vishnu and Lakshmi often portrayed on a pink lotus in iconography. In the representation of Vishnu as Padmanabha (Lotus navel), a lotus issues from his navel with Brahma on it. Goddess Sarasvati is portrayed on a white-colored lotus.
Often used as an example of divine beauty, Vishnu is often described as the 'Lotus-Eyed One'. Its unfolding petals suggest the expansion of the soul. The growth of its pure beauty from the mud of its origin holds a benign spiritual promise. In Hindu iconography, other deities, like Ganga and Ganesha are often depicted with lotus flowers as their seats.
The lotus plant is cited extensively within Puranic and Vedic literature, for example:
In Chinese culture Confucian scholar Zhou Dunyi wrote:One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus is untouched by water.—Bhagavad Gita 5.10:
I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is unstained.deities of Asian religions are depicted as seated on a lotus flower. In Buddhist symbolism, the lotus represents purity of the body, speech, and mind as if floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire. According to legend, Gautama Buddha was born with the ability to walk, and lotus flowers bloomed everywhere he stepped.
In the classical written and oral literature of many Asian cultures the lotus is present in figurative form, representing elegance, beauty, perfection, purity and grace, being often used in poems and songs as an allegory for ideal feminine attributes. In Sanskrit the word lotus (padma पद्म) has many synonyms. Since the lotus thrives in water, ja (denoting birth) is added to synonyms of water to derive some synonyms for the lotus, like ambuja (ambu= water + ja=born of), neeraj (neera=water + ja= born of), pankaj, pankaja, kamal, kamala, kunala, aravind, arvind, nalin,nalini and saroja and names derived from the lotus, like padmavati (possessing lotuses) or padmini (full of lotuses). These names and derived versions are often used to name girls, and to a lesser extent boys, in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, as well as in many other countries influenced by Indic culture, like Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos.
Drawing in turn on these beliefs, the international Bahá'í community adopted this symbolism in the design of the Lotus Temple in New Delhi, India.
- The Padma Shri, a civilian award given by the Government of India, has the words Padma ("lotus") and Sri in Devanagari script appear above and below a lotus flower on its obverse.
- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a nationalist political party of India which claims to be at the forefront of India's cultural nationalism, uses the lotus as its election symbol.
- Japanese rock musician Miyavi uses the lotus and a crescent moon with the kanji of his name (meaning 'elegance') above, as his insignia.
- Moriyama City's prefectural flower is the lotus.
- Vietnam Airlines's logo comprises a golden lotus and is also mentioned in their frequent flyer program, the Golden Lotus Plus.
- Lotus is burned in a powdered form as ceremonial incense, primarily in Buddhist temples.
- Lotus is a Ayyavazhi symbol in south tamilnadu