Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Lotus, a name applied generically by modern botanists to the birdsfoot trefoils, a group of Leguminosae. The sacred Lotus of the East is Nelumbinvi speciosum, which belongs to the water-lily family. From its fleshy rhizome spring the tall peltate leaves and long-stalked flowers, bcth of which may in early stages float on the water. The leaves are covered with fine hairs, so that the water rolls off them, and their stomates are confined to the centre of the upper surface. The numerous petals are either pure white or, more commonly, pink-tinted, and the enlarged funnel-shaped receptacle, in the upper surface of which the carpels are separately sunk, is most characteristic. It was aptly compared by Herodotus to a wasp's nest; but, though found from Australia and Japan to the Caspian, it no longer grows in Egypt, where he, Strabo, and Theophrastus mention it as occurring, and where ancient sculptures clearly attest its connection with the worship of Isis. It is still venerated by Buddhists. Both the rhizome and the seeds are edible. The present white and blue lotuses of the Nile are two species of water-lily, Castalia Lotus and C. cccrulea. In a 12th-century manuscript of Dioscorides, whilst Nelumbium is represented under the name kyamos, the lotus, the food of the Lotophagi of Homer, appears as the fruit of Celtis australis, the nettle tree of the Mediterranean region, a member of the elm tribe which bears a small, sweet, drupaceous fruit. It has, however, been plausibly suggested that the fruit whose lusciousness, according to Homer, made men forget their native land, was the date.