September 20, 2010

Lotus or Water Lily?

Until today I thought that lotus and water lily were interchangeable words. Silly me. Of course it's not that simple.

Both are aquatic plants that grow in shallow calm fresh (ie. unsalted) water and love lots of sunshine. Yet there is a botanical distinction; and the water lily is a Western plant, while the lotus is Eastern. To confuse things, now, of course, you can find either wherever the climate is suitable.

I saw this white beauty today at a garden center. Which is it, a lotus or water lily?

Philippines, 2010


Let me give you clue: The most telling difference is that the petals of the water lily sit on the water, while the lotus rises above it.

Easy, right?

Since I saw this fabulous specimen today, I though I'd also show you a lotus seed head. The seeds are used in Chinese cooking; I love both the soup and dessert made with lotus seeds.


If you are interested to learn more about this fabulous flower, this web page looked interesting, explaining not only the botany, but its appearance in history, literature and sacred lore.

This post is linked to Today's Flower and Mellow Yellow Monday.

24 comments:

Kay L. Davies said...

I knew there was a difference, because I've seen lots of water lilies, but couldn't have defined it offhand except I rather thought of the lotus in terms of perfume, whereas I believe the waterlily doesn't have an appealing fragrance. Beautiful photos, but I'm especially fascinated by the lotus seeds. I also looked up their medicinal uses and think they sound interesting to "alleviate restlessness, palpitations, and insomnia."

Your pictures are wonderful. I always look forward to them.

Kay,
Alberta

LC said...

These are truly wonderful photographs... just beautiful! L

jennyfreckles said...

It's such a delicate looking flower - and the seedhead most unusual. I think you're right about water lilies being nearer the water surface - but just to confuse things, I saw several standing proud of the surface in a lake near here recently.

Carver said...

Very interesting post about the differences and beautiful shots.

VP said...

I was (and still am) much more ignorant than this about flowers. Thanks for this post and for the gorgeous images.

Maria Berg said...

Lotus!!! Did you know that you can eat it!!!
They made me taste it in India.

/MB

T. Becque said...

Oooh, really pretty and I learned something I didn't know!

eden said...

Beautiful photos. I never seen a lotus seed head yet and thank you for showing it to us.

April said...

Great post! Gorgeous photos!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Hello Francisca == nice to meet a fellow-traveler (although our travels pale in comparison to yours). I loved reading your "where exactly is home" -- you did such a lovely job of that -- I feel as if I know you.

Your flowers are beautiful on todays post -- and I have added your blog to my reader, because I want to come back and read more about your journies.

Thanks for sharing -- and for visiting FT-L.

Francisca said...

@Maria - yes, I eat a lot of lotus, both the seeds and the root. The Chinese have delicious recipes for those.

Dinah said...

beautiful pictures! lovely indeed.

Luna Miranda said...

great info! i know they're different but didn't know which one is.:p i love your closeup shot this delicate lotus flower.

JM said...

I have just realized the difference not long ago... :-) Beautiful shots, Francisca!

anjoe playhouse said...

Great photos! I'll google after recipes in danish!!

jabblog said...

I'd never thought about where the lotus grows. I suppose I vaguely thought it was a shrub or small tree. Thanks to you I now know :-)
The lotus seed head is wonderful - it doesn't look real, more as though someone has designed it.

Kay L. Davies said...

Francisca -- Thanks for visiting my blog. Perhaps I should have been more specific. Seriously, Old Shanghai was the only place I was IN a crowd. There were a lot of people at the Wall, but I didn't try to climb it; there were lots of people at the Forbidden City, but not really elbow-to-elbow. I know, because I didn't want to go to China because crowds make me very claustrophobic. However, it is likely Viking River Tours did not let our tour groups get into the kind of urban crowds you mention. I knew such crowds existed, and almost refused to go. Fortunately, the airport was almost empty when we arrived in Beijing, and I only had trouble in Shanghai.
--K

anjoe playhouse said...

I found lots of links; do now understand why using seed paste in cakes and desserts ;-) The roots (vacuum-packed) are to find in larger speciality-shops in Denmark!

Louis la Vache said...

The things you learn cruising the blogosphere! «Louis» didn't know they are two different plants!

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Gunn said...

Superb images!:)

Anita Johnson said...

Believe it or not, we have both water lilies and lotus in our koi pond right here in our Wisconsin backyard. My husband loves the lotus, but I think their leaves look like satellite dishes! :-)

Evelyn said...

Aah, never did think about the difference between the water lily & lotus. Now I know! I love the last shot, what a funny seed pod.

Kirigalpoththa said...

I had a rice mixed with lotus seeds oneday.

In Sri Lanka we have three types of water lillies. Nelum (which is lotus), Olu and Manel.