Nymphaea spp.



Water Lily.

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Nymphaea spp.

Botanical information

Nymphaea nouchali is a clump forming perennial with spongy roots and tuberous rhizomes that are anchored in pond orcreek mud. They do not have true stems. The leaves are on up to 1.5m long petioles that arise directly from the rhizome. The leaves are large and flat, rounded or oval in shape with notched margins, up to 40 cm in diameter, and cleft almost to the centre where the petiole is attached. They are relatively short lived and are replaced regularly throughout the growing season.

The large, elegant blue flowers are held well above the water at the tip of a sturdy green stalk and appear almost constantly from spring until the end of summer (September to February). They are bisexual, star-like and regular (actinomorphic), with 4 sepals, green on the outside and white to blue on the inside, and many blue petals. The flowers open in early to mid-morning and close completely in late afternoon and stay closed all night. The flowers are sweetly fragrant and are visited constantly by bees who are the most likely pollinator.

The seed is small (1.2 x 0.8 mm) and ellipsoid, each surrounded by a membranous aril which causes them to float for a while, allowing the seeds to disperse from the parent plant, before it disintegrates and they sink under the water onto the mud.


The easiest method of propagation is division. Plants may be left in place for two years, but pot grown plants are best lifted, divided and planted in fresh soil each year for good results. The plants are best lifted and divided just before new growth commences in the spring (August). Pull or cut the fleshy roots (rhizomes) apart and replant immediately in fresh soil mixture. Each new plant should have at least one bud at the tip of the rhizome.

The blue water lily may be grown from seed, but this requires patience, for the plants take 3 to 4 years to flower. The seed can be sown in spring and during summer (September-January). Finely sieved clean loam soil without any organic matter or fertiliser is best. Seed should be sown thinly, covered lightly with soil and then plunged into shallow water, no deeper than 2.5 cm, and placed in a sunny position. Germination should take 3-4 weeks The seedlings will look like fine grass at first, developing true leaves later. When the first two or three floating leaves appear the seedling should be pricked out and planted into individual containers and immersed back in the water. They may be submerged into deeper water and larger containers as they grow and lengthen.

Information sourced from http://www.plantzafrica.com/plantnop/nymphnouch.htm


Traditional uses

Nymphaea nouchali has featured heavily in Egyptian history. The goddess Isis is said to have pointed out that the rhizomes were edible. Pharaohs wre buried with them and their pyramids adorned with images of them. There is also evidence, in the form of a painting in a tomb dating back to 3000-2500 BCE, that nymphaeas were deliberately cultivated in square, evenly spaced beds fed by canals. The blooms were in great demand for religious festivals, offerings of the flowers being made to the dead or to the gods, as well as for gifts to visiting noblemen as a gesture of friendship and goodwill. Both Amenhotep IV and Ramses III (1225 BCE) are known to have had them growing in their palace gardens. It is commonly assumed that this was purely for ornamental purposes, but given what we know now about their psychoactivity, there may have been more to this. Many ancient paintings depict the Sacred Blue Lotus in conjunction with wine symbols and among the consumed items rather than the decorative items.

It has also long been cultivated by the Chinese and Japanese.

In modern times, the name lotus is used almost exclusively for Nelumbo nucifera. Nelumbo nucifera is not a native of Egypt. It actually comes from south-east Asia where it is often found near temples and is regarded as sacred in China and Japan. It was introduced to the Nile by the Romans, probably for food. The true Egyptian lotus is Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea (syn. N. caerulea) and Nymphaea lotus. In in South Africa (c 1800), the rootstock of the blue water lily was collected and eaten, either raw or in curries, in particular by the Cape Malays and farming communities in the Cape.

For more info: http://www.thekeep.org/~kunoichi/kunoichi/themestream/egypt_waterlily.html


Pharmacology

The story of the sacred Blue Lotus makes a mockery of modern science. It has been known for several years now that this species is psychoactive to some degree, but little concrete knowledge exists in the scientific arena and the psychoactive effect is vigorously disputed by conservative scientists. So a couple of wiseguy pharmacologists decided to make a name for themselves by researching the active constituents and making a documentary about it. It is shown on the discovery channel and other media, and once youve experienced the effects of Blue Lotus you will understand just how ridiculous their research is. In years to come it will be better suited for the comedy channel.

First they compared the Mass Spectrometer analysis of a mummy with that of some Blue Lotus flowers with the result that they matched. This indicated that the mummy had consumed Sacred Blue Lotus not long before his death. They also looked for narcotics in the mummy and found none. The substances found were listed as phosphodiastrates, bioflavonoids and phytosterols. The first is similar to viagra, the second group is common in many fresh foods, and the last is similar to the known active constituent of Ginko biloba. At no stage in the research did they bother trying to consume a flower or an extract and this is where one has to wonder what the purpose of science is if it only serves to prove the absolute. The result of their expensive and drawn out study was that the mild activity of sacred Blue Lotus is due to the phytosterols. It is obvious that this conclusion can be dimissed as poor science, poor logic and above all poor representation of the lily itself.

Blue Lotus was assumed to contain nuciferine (1,2-dimethoxy-aporphine) just like Nelumbo nucifera, but this does not appear to be so according to the MS data. Aporphine and Apomorphine (6a-beta-aporphine-10,11-diol) have also been excluded.

Essentially this means that at this time no one knows what is causing the Blue Sacred Lotus to be a potent narcotic and inebriant. All we know is that 2-4 flowers soaked in wine for 24 hours will give a noticable and very pleasant synergy with the wine. Seed extracts and flower extracts can be consumed orally with or without alcohol, while dried flowers are easily dosed by smoking. All product forms will produce noticable effects. These can range from mild sedation to a fairly strong narcotic state.

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