|Nelumbo nucifera subsp. var.|
Nelumbo nucifera is known by a number of common names, including blue lotus, Indian lotus, sacred lotus, bean of India, and sacred water-lily. Botanically, Nelumbo nucifera (Gaertn.) may also be referred to by its former names, Nelumbium speciosum (Wild.) or Nymphaea nelumbo. This plant is an aquatic perennial, but if its seeds are preserved under favorable circumstances, they may remain viable for many years.
In Ancient Egypt, Nelumbo nucifera was unknown, being introduced only at the time of the Persian invasions, late in ancient Egyptian history. The ancient Egyptians venerated the blue water-lily, Nymphaea caerulea, which was sometimes known as the "blue lotus" or "sacred lotus".
N. nucifera was native to a huge area from modern Vietnam to Afghanistan, being spread widely as an ornamental and food plant. In 1787 it was first brought into horticulture in Western Europe as a stove-house water-lily under the patronage of Joseph Banks and can be seen in botanical garden collections where heating is provided. Today it is rare or extinct in the wild in Africa but widely naturalized in southern Asia and Australia, where it is commonly cultivated in water gardens. It is the National Flower of India and Vietnam.
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.
There are a number of different cultivars, the flower colours varying from snow white to yellow to a light pink. It is hardy to USDA Zone 5. The plant can be propagated from seeds or rhizomes. The oldest seed that has yet been germinated into a viable plant was an approximately 1,300-year-old lotus fruit, recovered from a dry lakebed in northeastern China.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Nelumbo nucifera, Gaertn. (Nelumbium speciosum, Willd. Nelumbo indica. Pers., and N. Nelumbo, Karst.). East Indian Lotus. Fig. 2455. Lvs. usually larger than those of N. lutea, glaucous: fls. fragrant, usually pink except in horticultural varieties, overtopping the lvs. Caspian Sea to Japan, Philippine Isls., India and N. Austral.; naturalized at Bordentown, N. J., where it was intro. by E. D. Sturtevant.— This plant is known to the trade as Egyptian lotus, but the lotus of the ancient Egyptians is a Nymphaea. This plant is not native to the Nile region. Many named forms are cult., e.g.: Fls. white: Var. alba (N. alba, Hort.), the "magnolia lotus." Var. Alba grandifldra, larger-fld. Var. alba striata, edge of petals striped and tipped with red. Var. pygmaea alba, dwarf: lvs. 6 in.: fls. 4 in. across. Var. alba plena (N. Shiroman), large, double Japanese form. Var. pygmaea alba plena, dwarf, double. Fls. pink to red: Var. Kinshiren, white shaded pink. Var. kernesina, light rose. Var. Grossherzog Ernst Ludwig (-N. fiavescens x N. Osiris), salmon-rose. Var. pygmaea rosea, dwarf, bright rose. Var. rosea, Hort., deep rosy pink. Var. Osiris, deep rose. Var. pulchra, dark rosy red. Var. pekin- ensis rubra, rosy carmine. Var. gigantea, very large, rose-purple. Var. rosea plena, double, deep rosy pink. Var. pekinensis rubra plena, very large, double, rosy carmine.
Pests and diseases
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963