Flowers, perhaps more than any other part of the natural world, are fascinating because of the many layers of meaning people have shrouded them in throughout history.
There is a whole sub-category of etiquette surrounding which flowers are appropriate to give at what times, and to whom. The unending rules surrounding something so simple as a flower can be dizzying.
Another aspect of flower lore concerns the designated flowers for each month of the year. What many people don’t realize is that most months actually have two official flowers. Earlier, we looked at one of July’s official flowers, larkspur. The other is the water lily.
Water lilies are any one of about 70 species of flowering plants found throughout the world. Though they appear to grow out of water, water lilies are actually rooted in soil with stems that reach upward, allowing the flowers to float on the surface. They feature large, flat leaves, commonly known as lily pads.
Water lilies come in two varieties: tropical and hardy — depending what type of climate they thrive in — and an array of colors, including yellow, orange, pink, red, white, purple, and blue. The flowers and leaves also come in a wide-range of sizes and shapes.
Traditionally, water lilies have been used in herbal medicine as astringent, antiseptic, and anesthetic. Native Americans mashed the plant’s roots to soothe swollen limbs.
Also known as Nymphaeaceae, water lilies are associated with the water nymphs of Greek mythology, minor female deities who were as free-spirited and strong-willed as they were sensual and mysterious.