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Lotus Flower Types

The lotus flower is a type of water lily belonging to the Nymphaea and Nelumbo genera. Water lilies are not to be confused with lilies that belong to a different family (Liliaceae).

White lotus

The Egyptian white lotus flower (Nymphaea lotus) is austere and beautiful in its simplicity. Also known as the Tiger Lotus or Egyptian White Water Lily, this plant grows in various parts of East Africa and Southeast Asia. It has rounded petals and tooth-edged leaves, grows in shallow waters, blooms at night, and remains open until midday.

The white lotus flower is unique in that it flowers and bears fruit at the same time. The cup-shaped flowers were often seen in ancient Egyptian art and architecture.


Blue lotus

The smaller blue lotus flower (Nymphaea caerulea) is native to the Nile. Also known as the Egyptian Blue Water Lily, the lotus has narrow, pointed petals, and floating leaves with smooth edges. It opens its flowers in the morning and closes at dusk. It was considered synonymous with the sun in Egyptian mythology, since it was said to rise and fall with the sun. This is the more common flower used in Egyptian art and imagery.

Red or pink lotus

The red or pink lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) is the national flower of India, and is commonly known as the Indian lotus or sacred lotus. It is often seen in pictographic representations of deities. Found in southern Asia, this lotus flower was introduced into Egypt about 2,500 years ago but is no longer found in the Nile region. Its flowers are usually found on thick stems rising several centimeters above the water.

The flowers of the red lotus are considered sacred by the Buddhists of India, Tibet, and China.

Almost all parts of the plant are used in Asian cooking.

Yellow lotus

The yellow lotus (Nelumbo lutea) is native to California and throughout the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada. It is also known as the American lotus or Water-chinquapin. The pale yellow scented blossoms are smaller than those of the sacred lotus.

The leaves of the American lotus are circular and do not have a cut as do the nymphaea type of lotuses. The stalk is is long and stiff, and the seedpods are commonly sold as ornamental items. This lotus plant has a large root that was used by Native Americans as a food source.