Herb of the Week-Lotus
Bean of India
Sacred Water Lotus
The aquatic plant family Nelumbonaceae comprises two species and one of them is Nelumbo nucifera. Currently, the recognized name of this species is Linnaean binomial Nelumbo nucifera, which is classified under its several earlier names, including Nymphaea nelumbo and Nelumbium speciosum. This is a perennially growing aquatic plant. When the conditions are favourable, the seeds of this plant continue to be viable for numerous years. It is amazing to note that the oldest seeds of lotus that germinated successfully are those that were 1,300 years old and picked up from the dry bed of a lake located in the north-eastern part of China.
There are several instances where the lotus has wrongly been referred to as the water lily (belonging to plant family Nymphaea), a completely dissimilar plant that is evident from the flower’s center that does not have the structure that later on develops into a characteristic rounded seed pod in the case of Nelumbo nucifera (water lotus).
The roots of the lotus plant are firmly set in the mud or wet dirt and it gives out elongated stems. The leaves of the plant are attached to these long stems. While the lotus flowers are at all times found above the surface of the water, sometimes even the leaves can be seen floating on the water. The flowers are large, gorgeous and aromatic and they open in the morning. By the afternoon, the petals begin to fall.