Nymphaea caerulea Savigny, Décade égyptienne 1:71(74?). 1798 (Ann. Mus. Natl. Hist. Nat. 1:366, t.25. 1802) (Syn: (≡) Castalia caerulea (Savigny) Tratt.; (≡) Leuconymphaea caerulea (Savigny) Kuntze; (=) “Nymphaea ampla Kotschy ex Casp., nom. inval.“; (=) Nymphaea caerulea var. albiflora Casp.; (=) Nymphaea caerulea var. versicolor T. Durand & H. Durand; (=) Nymphaea calliantha Conard; (=) Nymphaea calliantha var. nelsonii Burtt Davy; (=) Nymphaea calliantha var. tenuis Conard; (=) Nymphaea cyclophylla R. E. Fr.; (=) Nymphaea discolor Steud. ex Lehm.; (=) Nymphaea engleri Gilg; (=) Nymphaea magnifica Gilg; (=) Nymphaea mildbraedii Gilg; (=) Nymphaea muschleriana Gilg; (=) “Nymphaea muschleriana var. megaphylla Hauman, nom. inval.“; (≡) Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea (Savigny) Verdc.; (=) Nymphaea nouchali var. mutandaensis Verdc.; (=) Nymphaea nubica Lehm.; (=) Nymphaea poecila Lehm.; (=) Nymphaea radiata Bercht. & Opiz);
The leaves are broadly rounded, 25–40 cm across, with a notch at the leaf stem. The flowers are 10–15 cm in diameter.
Reports in the literature by persons unfamiliar with its actual growth and blooming cycle have suggested that the flowers open in the morning, rising to the surface of the water, then close and sink at dusk. In fact, the flower buds rise to the surface over a period of two to three days, and when ready, open at approximately 9–9:30 am and close about 3 pm. The flowers and buds do not rise above the water in the morning, nor do they submerge at night. The flowers have pale bluish-white to sky-blue or mauve petals, smoothly changing to a pale yellow in the centre of the flower.
In modern culture, blue lotus flowers are used to make various concoctions including blue lotus tea, wine and martinis. Recipes for such drinks involve steeping or soaking the petals, about 10–20 grams for up to three weeks. Blue lotus ‘tea’ is prepared by boiling the entire flowers for 10–20 minutes.
Recent studies have shown Nymphaea caerulea to have mild psycho-active properties. It may have been used as a sacrament in ancient Egypt and certain ancient South American cultures. Eating Blue Lotus can act as a mild sedative. Nymphaea caerulea is distantly related to, and possesses similar activity to Nelumbo nucifera, the Sacred Lotus. Both Nymphaea caerulea and Nelumbo nucifera contain the alkaloids nuciferine and aporphine. The mildly sedating effects of Nymphaea caerulea makes it a likely candidate (among several) for the lotus plant eaten by the mythical Lotophagi in Homer‘s Odyssey.
Used in aromatherapy, Nymphaea caerulea is purported to have a “divine” essence, bringing heightened awareness and tranquility. Some sources cite it as an antispasmodic similar to copal resin.
(From Wikipedia on 3.8.13)