Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea
Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea, or previously Nymphaea caerulea, known primarily as blue lotus (or blue Egyptian lotus), but also blue water lily (or blue Egyptian water lily), and sacred blue lily, is a water lily in the genus Nymphaea, as a variety of Nymphaea nouchali. Like other species in the genus, the plant contains the psychoactive alkaloid aporphine (not to be confused with apomorphine). It was known to the Ancient Egyptian civilization.
|Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea|
|A Nymphaea caerulea flower.|
N. n. var. caerulea
|Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea|
In 2012 there was a phylogenetic study where Nymphaea caerulea was more related to Nymphaea spectabilis than to Nymphaea nouchali. In the same study, the closest relative to N. nouchali was Nymphaea gracilis. Such evolutionary tree was a consensus of ITS2 and matk, so it is highly accurate. Since then, there has not been any scientific paper that has included both N. caerulea and N. nouchali in the same study. Therefore, from the latest scientific evidence Nymphaea caerulea should not be considered as a variety of Nymphaea nouchali. That is why when the water lily (Nymphaea) genome was published for the first time in the journal Nature in 2020, Nymphaea caerulea was not cited as Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea, but as Nymphaea caerulea.
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 around 9:30 am and close about 3:00 pm. 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 or mauve petals, smoothly changing to a pale yellow in the centre of the flower.
Religion and artEdit
Along with the white lotus, Nymphaea lotus, also native to Egypt, the plant and flower are very frequently depicted in Ancient Egyptian art. They have been depicted in numerous stone carvings and paintings, including the walls of the famous temple of Karnak, and are frequently depicted in connection with "party scenes", dancing or in significant spiritual or magical rites such as the rite of passage into the afterlife. King Tut's mummy was covered with the flower. N. caerulea was considered extremely significant in Egyptian mythology, regarded as a symbol of the sun, since the flowers are closed at night and open again in the morning. At Heliopolis, the origin of the world was taught to have been when the sun god Ra emerged from a lotus flower growing in "primordial waters". At night, he was believed to retreat into the flower again. Due to its colour, 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. It was the symbol of the Egyptian deity Nefertem.
Properties and usesEdit
N. caerulea is illegal in Latvia since November 2009. It is a schedule 1 drug. Possession of quantities up to 1 gram are fined up to 280 euros, for second offences within a year period criminal charges are applied. Possession of larger quantities can be punished by up to 15 years in prison.
- List of plants known as lotus
- Nymphaea capensis, cape blue water lily
- Nymphaea lotus, the Egyptian white water lily
- Nymphaea nouchali, the star lotus
- Sacred Weeds, a Channel 4 TV series examining the effects of various psychoactive plants (including the blue lily) on volunteers
- List of plants known as lily
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