Water Lilies and Lotuses: From Colors to Medicinal Uses to the Environment

The water lily, a valuable aquatic plant belonging to the genus Nymphaea and the family Nymphaeaceae, is categorized into two ecological groups: Tropical and Hardy water lily [1,2]. With about 50 species worldwide, it is known as a subaqueous nymph and represents purity, loyalty, and playfulness.

Colors of Water Lilies, Zheng et. al

Here are nine different water lily flower colors. These colors are represented by ‘Ai Ji Bai’ (A), 18 (B), 27 (C), ‘Albert Greenberg’ (D), 34 (d), ‘Eldorado’ (E), 37 (F), ‘Roxburgh’ (G), and ‘Tai Guo Wang’ (H).

Water lilies and lotuses serve not only as decorative plants but also play a crucial role in purifying water. The roots of water lilies have the ability to absorb harmful substances such as mercury, lead, and phenol, while also filtering out microorganisms present in the water. As a result, these aquatic plants are essential in the process of water decontamination, as well as in afforestation and landscaping efforts [3].

Both the flowers and roots of water lilies can be used to make tea and liquor, and the entire plant has been used to treat of nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys). They are believed to possess detoxifying and aphrodisiac properties, along with astringent and diuretic qualities [4].

As you see on this website, tropical water lilies exhibit unique colors such as blue, violet, and bluish purple, which are absent in the hardy water lilies. This distinction makes Tropicals more appealing. There is limited knowledge about the formation and genetic mechanisms behind the flower colors of tropical water lilies. Further research on the pigments present in the flower petals will shed light on the process of color formation in these flowers.

[1] Zhu M, Zheng X, Shu Q, Li H, Zhong P, Zhang H, et al. (2012) Relationship between the Composition of Flavonoids and Flower Colors Variation in Tropical Water Lily (Nymphaea) Cultivars. PLoS ONE 7(4): e34335.
[2] Huang GZ, Deng HQ, Li ZX, Li G (2009) Water lily. Beijing: China Forestry Publishing House. 3 p.
[3] Li QQ, Huang JY, Ji JB, Meng QG, Yang CJ, et al. (2005) The goddess of aquatic flowers-water lily. Practical Forestry Technology 10: 45–46.
[4] Devi Bown (1995) Encyclopedia of Herbs and their uses. London, New York, Stuttgart, Moscow: Dorling Kindersley Limited. 317 p.

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