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Nymphaea nouchali

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Title: Nymphaea nouchali  
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Subject: National symbols of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Flag of Bangladesh, Constitution of Bangladesh, National symbols of Sri Lanka
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Nymphaea nouchali

Nymphaea nouchali
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
Order: Nymphaeales
Family: Nymphaeaceae
Genus: Nymphaea
Species: N. nouchali
Binomial name
Nymphaea nouchali
Burm. f.
Castalia acutiloba (DC.) Hand.-Mazz.
Castalia stellaris Salisb.
Castalia stellata (Willd.) Blume
Leuconymphaea stellata (Willd.) Kuntze
Nymphaea acutiloba DC.
Nymphaea cahlara Donn, nom. inval.
Nymphaea cyanea Roxb.
Nymphaea edgeworthii Lehm.
Nymphaea henkeliana Rehnelt
Nymphaea hookeriana Lehm.
Nymphaea malabarica Poir.
Nymphaea membranacea Wall. ex Casp., nom. inval.
Nymphaea minima F.M.Bailey nom. illeg.
Nymphaea punctata Edgew.
Nymphaea rhodantha Lehm.
Nymphaea stellata Willd.
Nymphaea stellata var. albiflora F. Henkel & al.
Nymphaea stellata var. cyanea (Roxb.) Hook. f. & Thomson
Nymphaea stellata var. parviflora Hook. f. & Thomson
Nymphaea stellata var. versicolor (Sims) Hook. f. & Thomson
Nymphaea tetragona var. acutiloba (DC.) F. Henkel & al.
Nymphaea versicolor Sims
Nymphaea voalefoka Lat.-Marl. ex W. Watson, nom. nud.

Nymphaea nouchali, or by its synonym Nymphaea stellata, or by name star lotus, red and blue water lily, blue star water lily is a water lily of genus Nymphaea. It is the national flower of Sri Lanka and of Bangladesh.

Distribution and habitat

The blue-flowered Nymphaea nouchali or Nil Mānel.
Fuchsia-colored Nymphaea nouchali in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh.

This aquatic plant is native from the Indian Subcontinent to Australia region. It has been long valued as a garden flower in Thailand and Myanmar to decorate ponds and gardens. In its natural state N. nouchali is found in static or slow-flowing aquatic habitats of little to moderate depth.


Water lily in Thiruvananthapuram

Nymphaea nouchali is a day-blooming nonviviparous plant with submerged roots and stems. Part of the leaves are submerged, while others rise slightly above the surface. The leaves are round and green on top; they usually have a darker underside. The floating leaves have undulating edges that give them a crenellate appearance. Their size is about 20–23 cm and their spread is 0.9 to 1.8 m

This water lily has a beautiful flower which is usually violet blue in color with reddish edges. Some varieties have white, purple, mauve or fuchsia-colored flowers, hence its name red and blue water lily. The flower has 4-5 sepals and 13-15 petals that have an angular appearance making the flower look star-shaped from above. The cup-like calyx has a diameter of 11–14 cm.


Sigiriya frescoes, Anuradhapura period, Central Ceylon. The lady on the left is holding a Nil Mānel.

N. nouchali is the national flower of Bangladesh.[1] A pale blue-flowered N. nouchali is the national flower of Sri Lanka, where it is known as nil mānel or nil mahanel (නිල් මානෙල්).[2]

In Sri Lanka this plant usually grows in buffalo ponds and natural wetlands. Its beautiful aquatic flower has been mentioned in Sanskrit, Pali and Sinhala literary works since ancient times under the names kuvalaya, indhīwara, niluppala, nilothpala and nilupul as a symbol of virtue, discipline and purity. Buddhist lore in Sri Lanka claims that this flower was one of the 108 auspicious signs found on Prince Siddhartha's footprint.[3] It is said that when Buddha died, lotus flowers blossomed everywhere he had walked in his lifetime.

N. nouchali might have been one of the plants eaten by the Lotophagi of Homer's Odyssey.


N. nouchali is used as an ornamental plant because of its spectacular flowers. It is also popular as an aquarium plant under the name "Dwarf Lily" or "Dwarf Red Lily". Sometimes it is grown for its flowers, while other aquarists prefer to trim the lily pads, and just have the underwater foliage.

Nymphaea nouchali is considered a medicinal plant in Indian Ayurvedic medicine under the name Ambal; it was mainly used to treat indigestion.[4]

Like all waterlilies or lotuses, its tubers and rhizomes can be used as food items; they are eaten usually boiled or roasted. In the case of N. nouchali, its tender leaves and flower peduncles are also valued as food.[5]

The dried plant is collected from ponds, tanks and marshes during the dry season and used in India as animal forage.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Constitution Of The People's Republic Of Bangladesh
  2. ^ Hettiarachchi, Kumudini (November 7, 2010). "The Great Pretender". The Sunday Times, Sri Lanka. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  3. ^ TokyoNet - National Statistics
  4. ^ P. V. Sharma, Puṣpāyurvedaḥ - Pradhāna vitaraka Caukhambhā Bhāratī Akādamī, 1998
  5. ^ - Kew Bulletin, 1953Waterlilies as FoodFR Irvine, RS Trickett -
  6. ^ A Banerjee, S Matai - Composition of Indian aquatic plants in relation to utilization as animal forage - Journal of Aquatic plant management, 1990

External links

  • Neel kamal (blue waterlily) in Indian culture on Biodiversity of India portal.
  • Taxon: Nymphaea stellata Willd. - Synonym of Nymphaea nouchali Burm. f.
  • Perry D. Slocum: Waterlilies and Lotuses. Timber Press 2005, ISBN 0-88192-684-1 (restricted online version at Google Books)
  • Ambal (Nymphaea stellata) - Flowers of India - Kerala Ayurvedics
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