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|Nymphaea caerulea leaf and flower |
The Blue Waterlily (Nymphaea caerulea), also known as the Egyptian Blue Lily or Sacred Blue Lily, is a blue water-lily in the genus Nymphaea that grows upon the Nile, amongst other locations. It is not to be confused with Blue Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera). It has historically been known as the Blue Lotus and Sacred Lotus, particularly in discussing its revered status among the Ancient Egyptians, Nubians, Abyssinians, and any number of historic African civilizations of the ancient world.
The leaves are broadly rounded, 25-40 cm across, with a notch at the leaf stem. The flowers are 10-15 cm diameter. Reports in the literature by persons unfamiliar with its actual growth and blooming cycle have suggested that the flowers open in the morning, rising to the surface of the water, then close and sink at dusk. In fact, the flower buds rise to the surface over a period of two to three days, and when ready, open at approximately 9-9:30am and close about 3pm. The flowers and buds do not rise above the water in the morning, nor do they submerge at night. The flowers have pale bluish-white to sky-blue petals, smoothly changing to a pale yellow in the centre of the flower.
It was considered extremely significant in Egyptian mythology, since it was said to rise and fall with the sun. Consequently, due to its colourings, it was identified, in some beliefs, as having been the original container, in a similar manner to an egg, of Atum, and in similar beliefs Ra, both solar deities. As such, its properties form the origin of the lotus variant of the Ogdoad cosmogeny.
The flowers are rumored to contain aporphine, an entheogen that is purported to have divinatory properties, and nuciferine, an antispasmodic, but the Egyptian species have never been scientifically tested for these compounds.
It is sometimes assumed that Nymphaea caerulea was the lotus plant eaten by the mythical Lotophagi. In an episode in Homer's Odyssey, Ulysses and his crew arrive at a North African island populated by "lotus eaters", and the sailors, made indolent by the plant, do not wish to leave because of their addiction to the euphoria achieved from consuming the plant. However, the Greek word l˘tos can refer to at least four different plants; most commonly, Ziziphus lotus is assumed to be the plant meant in the Odyssey .
Nymphaea caerulea is also the flower that lent its name to Alfred, Lord Tennyson's (fl. 1850) poem, The Lotos-Eaters, based on the Odyssey.
Used in Aromatherapy, Lotus is purported to have a divine essence, bringing euphoria, heightened awareness and tranquility. The symbol of the Egyptian God of healing Nerfertem, God of the Primeval Lotus Blossom. Associated with perfumes and fertility and has Anti-spasmodic and sedative, purifying and calming properties.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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