Despite their name, water-lilies are not related to the true lilies (family Liliaceae). The name "lily" is applied to a number of plants that are not at all closely related, such as day lilies, spider lilies and arum lilies, in addition to the water lilies. Nymphaea (Egyptian lotuses) are also not related to the Chinese and Indian lotus of genus Nelumbo, which are used in Asian cooking and sacred to Hinduism and Buddhism. The ancient Egyptians revered the Nile water-lilies, or lotuses as they were also called. The lotus motif is a frequent feature of temple column architecture. Nymphaea nouchali is a lovely aquatic plant with sky-blue flowers and is South Africa's most commonly grown indigenous water lily. It is a clump-forming perennial with thick black spongy tuberous rhizomes anchored in the pond mud by spreading roots. The water lily does not have true stems: the leaves are on long petioles (leaf stalks) 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. They start out as a soft shiny green at the centre of the plant. As they age, the petiole lengthens, pushing the leaf towards the outer perimeter making room for the new growth, and they develop light brown or purple splashes which eventually cover the leaf, leaving only the veins green. They then start to die, turning yellow then brown and eventually disappearing under the water. One plant can spread over an area of about 1 metre.
USDA Zone - 9
Season to Sow - Spring
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