Teratai / Nymphaea / Water Lily

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Nymphaea (pronounced /nɪmˈfiː.ə/) is a genus of aquatic plants in the family Nymphaeaceae. There are about 50 species in the genus, which has a cosmopolitan distribution.

The common name, shared with some other genera in the same family, is water-lily or waterlily.
The name Nymphaea comes from the Greek term "Νυμφαία", possibly related to "Νύμφη" meaning "nymph". The nymphs in Greek mythology were supernatural feminine beings associated with springs, so the application of the name to delicately flowered aquatic plants is understandable.

Despite their name, water-lilies are not related to the true lilies (family Liliaceae). The name "lily" is applied to a number of plants that are not at all closely related, such as day lilies, spider lilies and arum lilies, in addition to the water lilies. Nymphaea (Egyptian lotuses) are also not related to the Chinese and Indian lotus of genus Nelumbo, which are used in Asian cooking and sacred to Hinduism and Buddhism.
However, the genus Nymphaea is closely related to Nuphar, another genus commonly called "lotus". In Nymphaea, the flower petals are much larger than the sepals, whereeas in Nuphar the petals are much smaller than its sepals. The fruit maturation also differs, with Nymphaea fruit sinking below the water level immediately after the flower closes, whereas Nuphar fruit are held above water level to maturity. Both genera share leaves with a radial notch from the circumference to the petiole (leaf stem) in the center.
he ancient Egyptians revered the Nile water-lilies, or lotuses as they were also called. The lotus motif is a frequent feature of temple column architecture.
The Egyptian Blue Water-lily, N. caerulea, opens its flowers in the morning and then sinks beneath the water at dusk, while the Egyptian White Water-lily, N. lotus, flowers at night and closes in the morning. This symbolizes the Egyptian separation of deities and is a motif associated with Egyptian beliefs concerning death and the afterlife. The recent discovery of psychedelic properties of the blue lotus may also have been known to the Egyptians and explain its ceremonial role. Remains of both flowers have been found in the burial tomb of Ramesses II.
The French painter Claude Monet is famous for his paintings of water lilies.

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