image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew | Licence: All Rights Reserved
image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew | Licence: All Rights Reserved

Nelumbium speciosum Willd. (Nelumbo nucifera)

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Watercolour on paper. Watercolour illustration commissioned by William Roxburgh. ROX663. In his 'Flora Indica', Roxburgh tells of his familiarity with two 'sorts' of this plant from the coast of Coromandel, one with rose-coloured flowers, the other with white ones, and with a third variety brought from China, with smaller rosy flowers. He describes how they grow in 'such sweet water lakes' and how, on the coast they flower all year. In Bengal they flower during the hot season, April, May and June. Roxburgh writes also about the radical joints which, in old plant, are swelled into tubulosities of various size, '.from them issue many fungous fibres, and from the upper part and the interior part of these tubulosities issue one, two, or more leaves and flowers.'. Roxburgh then reports that the tender shoots of the roots are eaten by the natives, boiled or in their curries. The seeds are eaten raw, roasted and boiled. The natives also use the leaves as plates from where to eat. This beautiful plant, known with their Sanscrit name Padma, is considered holy and often used in religious ceremonies of the Hindoos. The specimen here figured is the pink variety. Roxburgh, 'Flora Indica' (1832) v.2, p.647.

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Kolkata, West Bengal, India