Lotus flowers are one of the most prolific and enduring symbols in Eastern culture. In some religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism, they’re even considered sacred.
Renowned for their natural beauty and varying features, these flowers are also deeply rooted in history. Researchers estimate that the first lotus flower grew between 145.5 million years and 65.5 million years ago. In fact, despite their fragile and delicate appearance, they even survived the Ice Age, which occurred approximately 1.8 million to 10,000 years ago, forcing many early plants in the Earth’s northern hemisphere into extinction.
They might be living fossils, but these blooms continue to thrive freely and abundantly in many parts of the world. Where does the lotus flower grow and where can you find it? Today, we’re sharing some of its most prominent locations.
Spiritual leaders often associated lotus flowers with symbols of peace, prosperity, and longevity. Gods and goddesses are often depicted sitting atop or emerging from the flowers, and their unflawed design is linked to purity, enlightenment, and worldly detachment.
Much of this identification stems from the fact that lotus flowers are extremely hardy and durable, seemingly unaffected by the natural movements of the world.
What features have made the lotus flower so impervious to natural disasters and capable of withstanding the test of time? The secret lies in their unique growth pattern. Lotus flower seeds can survive for thousands of years, even without water.
This characteristic was put to the test in 1954, when the Yangtze River in Asia catastrophically flooded. That year, all of the lotuses in the region were killed as their root systems were torn. This lasted until 1957 when the water levels finally receded.
As soon as the water levels returned to normal, the lotus flowers picked back up as if nothing had happened. They began to grow again in vast populations, concentrated mostly in the shallow parts of the lake. This growth was possible because, although the lotus roots were destroyed, their seeds had remained intact even throughout the flooding. As they scattered once more around the lake, the population of lotus flowers was beautifully restored.
Adding to the lotus flower’s durability is the fact that it can purify the water it grows in, and can even resist pollution! They submerge below the water each night and rebloom in the morning, without trapping any damaging residue from their environment, no matter how acidic or dirty it might be.
Lotus flowers can grow naturally in many different countries, including:
They are capable of surviving in almost any type of climate, though they do prefer areas with plenty of moisture and mud, such as wetlands. As long as their roots remained submerged in either water or mud, they can even survive for years under ice!
While damp habitats offer ideal growing conditions for lotus flowers, they can also tolerate hot sun and high temperatures. Their root system can easily adapt to different types of soils, though they grow best in clay loams.
These are soils that contain a mixture of clay, sand, and silt. The clay helps retain water and provides nutrients for the flower’s roots, while the sand and silt prevent the soil from clumping and allow excellent water drainage.
While you can find lotus flowers in almost every corner of the globe, some species thrive more easily in certain parts of the world. Let’s take a look at where you can find some of the most common blooms.
Sacred lotus flowers (Nelumbo nucifera) are also called Indian lotuses or simply lotuses. This plant has a wide native distribution that ranges from India and Sri Lanka through northern Indochina and East Asia.
It also grows at isolated locations throughout the Caspian Sea, as well as virtually all throughout New Guinea and Island Southeast Asia, as well as northern and eastern Australia. Both India and Vietnam have declared the lotus their national flower.
White lotus flowers (Nymphaea lotus) are also called white Egyptian lotuses or Egyptian white water lilies. They have a massive natural range and can tolerate a variety of climates.
In northern India, the plants can grow on elevations as high as 1,400 meters, (4,600 feet) tall. You can also find them in East Asia and Southeast Asia, as well as most of China. This type of lotus is mostly found in ponds. It prefers warm, clear water that’s also slightly acidic.
One variation, known as the Nymphaea lotus var. Thermalis, is defined as a tertiary relict, which means it survives from plant communities that flourished during the Tertiary Period, occurring 66 million to 2.6 million years ago. This particular form of white lotus is endemic to Europe’s thermal waters, including the Peţa River in Romania and the Hévíz lake in Hungary.
The American Lotus (Nelumbo lutea) is also known as the yellow lotus. It is the only lotus native to the United States. This is an aquatic plant with pale yellow flowers and a delicate fragrance. Its large leaves are shaped like a bowl and grow on stalks above the water.
This particular plant grows best in large ponds and lakes, covering extensive areas along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, including regions in Iowa and Wisconsin. Its growth pattern stretches northward into some parts of Canada, including Ontario, and as far south as Texas and Florida.
Technically, the blue lotus (Nymphaea caerulea) is a type of water lily. Yet, it is still considered sacred due to its durability and purity, as its growth pattern is similar to that of the white lotus.
Native to the Nile River, this aquatic plant grows in freshwater lakes, rivers, and pools. It’s found naturally throughout most of Africa’s eastern half, as well as certain parts of southern Arabia. Over the years, blue lotus flowers have spread into other surrounding regions due to their use as an ornamental plant.
There’s a reason why religions across the world have heralded the lotus flower as one of their most sacred and cherished plants. These flowers might look dainty on the outside, but they’re pillars of strength, capable of surviving in environments that would normally threaten other species.
Due to this impressive flexibility, the lotus flower (and its various cultivars) have migrated across the globe, with variations found in many different countries. If you’re looking for a beautiful symbol of enduring peace and plentitude, this is the ideal bloom to choose.
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