CLAUDE NURIDSANY & MARIE PERENNOU / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CLAUDE NURIDSANY & MARIE PERENNOU / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Flower of the sacred lotus, Nelumbo nucifera. This is a member of the waterlily family, but differs from most other waterlilies by producing leaves which are held above water level. The flower lasts for one day only, and the seeds which can be eaten raw, pickled or cooked, may germinate after many years dormancy. The plant has been held sacred in India and China from early times because Buddha is supposed to have be born in the "heart of a lotus". The plant was introduced into Europe in 1787.
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