This species of water lily has lily pads which float on the water, and blossoms which rise above the water.
It is a perennial, grows to 45 cm in height, and prefers clear, warm, still and slightly acidic waters. The color of the flower is white and sometimes tinged with pink.
Nymphaea lotus is often used as an aquarium plant. Sometimes it is grown for its flowers, while other aquarists prefer to trim the lily pads, and just have the underwater foliage. It was introduced into western cultivation in 1802 by Loddiges Nursery.
The white lotus in Ancient Egypt
The ancient Egyptians cultivated the white lotus in ponds and marshes. This flower often appears in ancient Egyptian decorations. They believed that the lotus flower gave them strength and power; remains of the flower have been found in the burial tomb of Ramesses II.
The number 1,000 in ancient Egyptian numerals is represented by the symbol of the white lotus.
The ancient Egyptians also extracted perfume from this flower. They also used the white lotus in funerary garlands, temple offerings and female adornment.
The chloroform, ethyl acetate and n-butanol extracts of the leaf shows the presence of phenolic compounds (flavonoids, coumarins and tannins), sterols and alkaloids.
- Nymphaea caerulea, the Egyptian blue lotus or sacred lotus
- Nymphaea nouchali, the star lotus or red and blue water-lily
- Nymphaea dentata Schumach.