Lotus – A Guest Post from Ghana

As some of you may know, my eldest son, Marlon is studying abroad at the University of Ghana in Accra. Ghana is in West Africa, so he is VERY far away. I am so proud of him for taking this journey and although I worry (like any other mom) it makes me very happy to know that he is having such a unique and life changing experience. Recently he sent me photos of some plants that he saw in a pond, knowing how much I love plants and wanting to share his photos with me (and to see if I knew what they were). It came to light that he was writing an essay, so of course I asked him for it. I think that it is a wonderful thing to be able to experience so much of this amazing world we live in, so I am sharing this with you in hopes that you will enjoy traveling with me a bit, if only on the worldwide web.

Balme Pond Flora by Marlon Molinare
The pond in front of the Balme library at the University of Ghana,
Legon is home to the magical Nelumbo nucifera most commonly referred
to as the lotus flower. According to Hindu tradition, Visnu along
with Sarasvati and Lakshmi are often depicted sitting on top of lotus
flowers, symbolizing divine beauty and the expansion and unfurling of
the human soul. Among the Botany world however, Nelumbo nucifera is
admired for it’s unique structure and interesting temperature
regulation mechanisms.

The lotus flower anchors itself down to the muddy substrate of the
pond and lies with its leaves on top of the murky water. On average,
the flowers reach heights around 150 cm with radii of approximately 30
cm. This intuitive structure allows the plant to anchor itself to a
stable environment, makes photosynthesis easy by placing the leaves on
the water’s surface, and allows for easy pollination by insects by
sticking up high above neighboring plants

Dr. Roger S. Seymour and Dr. Paul Schultze-Motel of the University of
Adelaide, Australia found that Nelumbo nucifera is able to regulate
it’s internal temperature much like humans and other warm blooded
animals. It has been hypothesized that the lotus flower increases its
temperature in order to accommodate its cold-blooded insect
pollinators. In doing so, the lotus flower provides a warm
environment for the insects that sip its nectar to feed and mate,
while pollinating the plant in the process.

Another fun fact about Nelumbo nucifera is that its seeds can remain
viable for hundreds of years under favorable conditions with the
oldest documented successful germination being from a seed 1300 years
old found in a dried lakebed in northern China. The Lotus flower’s
leaves are also comprised of tiny raised bumps that make them
waterproof and allow water to bead off of the leaves with ease.

You can read about Marlon’s adventures in Ghana at his blog:





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