If the rose is the most celebrated botanical symbol in Western culture, the lotus is surely the most revered in the East. It has been cultivated in water gardens for millennia and the seed remains viable for hundreds of years if properly preserved.
Immense in size and exquisitely textured, the coloration of the aquatic lotus flower gives the illusion that it is glowing from within. It is an unequivocal symbol of divinity in Hinduism, Buddhism and other Eastern traditions, whose deities are often picture sitting on the perfectly circular leaves, with lotus blossoms emerging from their navel, palms or the crown of their head.
Despite its spiritual symbolism, lotus plays a role in the material world of Eastern cultures, as it is entirely edible. The roots have the appearance of Swiss cheese when sliced and are commonly consumed as a vegetable, while the seeds are ground into a paste and used as a basis for pastries.
Lotus is one of a handful of plants in the world that has been documented with the ability to regulate the temperature if its flowers, independently from air temperature. The physiology behind the phenomenon is not fully understood, but it is believed to serve the purpose of attracting pollinating insects.