White Lotus (Nymphaea alba)

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Genus Nymphaea Species alba Family NYMPHAEACEAE. Water Lily is the common name for some members of the Nymphaeaceae, a family of freshwater perennial herbs found in most parts of the world and often characterized by large shield-shaped leaves and showy, fragrant blossoms of various colors. Among the plants of the family are the water lilies, lotuses, and pond lilies of the genera Nymphaea, Nelumbo, and Nuphar, respectively; however, the common names often overlap; e.g., “water lily” is used for most species of the family and even for other unrelated aquatic plants with similar flowers. Text below refers to the Persian White Lotus/Water Lily.

Life cycle

Life form is Aquatic Life cycle and life span is annual cycle Overall height Overall spread varies.


Sunshine Various Water Various Optimal soil texture Various Acceptable soil pH Various USDA hardiness Not classified AHS heat zones Not classified Sunset climate zones Not classified. Most species of Nymphaea in cultivation are tropical, but some of the hardy kinds are native to the United States and to the corresponding temperate areas of the Southern Hemisphere. Both day- and night-blooming species open at fairly definite hours. Included in the genus is the blue or white Egyptian lotus (Nymphaea caerulea or N. lotus, respectively), sacred from remote times and the national emblem of Egypt.


Suitable for gardens no Nursery Unknown Compost no Size at acquisition Unknown Garden location Unknown Garden notes The rhizomes of Nymphaea alba as well as the roots have been used in traditional fabric dyeing. Black is the most typical color produced by White water lily. Nymphaea alba is known as Bun an Lilidh in Gaelic. Waterlily has been used in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland for dyeing. It is used in dyeing wool.

Special qualities

Tolerates drought no Tolerates high humidity no Tolerates seaside conditions no Insect resistant no Disease resistant no Deer resistant no Best uses Symbiosis Attracts butterflies no Attracts hummingbirds no Autumn foliage no Colorful berries no Desirable qualities Other interest Other interest color Other interest period

Adverse factors

Not an internal poison no Dermatologic poison no Livestock poison no Mechanical injury no Hay fever pollen Hay fever season Adverse qualities

Herbal medicine

Medicinal properties of White Lotus include astringent antiseptic anesthetic (extracts) anaphrodisiac sedative.  Medicinally, the Egyptian Lotus (its roots, stems and leaves) found uses both as a culinary delight and starchy food staple as well as being used internally as a treatment for gastrointestinal disorders and jaundice. The Persian Lotus was introduced in Egypt much later in its history and was also used in medicine for its narcotic properties, most commonly applied as an anesthetic. Soaking the Persian White Lotus flower petals or leaves in wine and then ingesting the extract also lent itself well as an aid in meditation and relaxation.  It has been rumored that powerful extracts of dried White Lotus flowers were used in the first World War as an admixture to opuim for surgery, or even as a substitute when opuim was not available as an anesthetic.  Has medicinal uses, but do not self-administer. Do no use if pregnant. Not legally restricted. Nymphaea alba has herbal applications as an astringent, as an antiseptic, as an anesthetic and as an anaphrodisiac. The rhizome and the flowers are used in herbal preparations.

Traditional uses

Parts used Traditional uses Contemporary uses Fragrance Fragrance parts Fragrance intensity Fragrance category Dye parts Rhizomes Roots Dye color black


Propagate Various Pollination method Planting style Crop spacing Row spacing Cold frame Planting period Harvesting period Frost tolerance Heat requirement Fertilizer Typical Time to harvest


Is edible no Culinary uses Nutritional value Edible parts Description of edible parts Flavor / texture

Additional Notes

In ancient Egypt, Papaver somniferum (Poppy) was mixed with Mandragora (Mandrake) and Nymphaea species to induce out of body experiences. Also has a long and well documented history of use and abuse by creative artists. This addictive but highly valued medicinal plant has been used as a pain killer and soporific in many cultures throughout the world and history. A highly important yet controversial plant.