Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Nymphaeaceae - Water Lily

The Missing Myth

Since our little pond was established in the restored washing trough we have enjoyed the annual gift of a single waterlily. With wonder and joy we observe its opening and closing each day for three days and its gentle sinking back underwater once its flowering cycle is complete.

 This extraordinary process, the unfurling at about 9am and furling at about 4pm, a pattern which repeats over three days, is the stuff of legends.

I looked up waterlily legends and unsurprisingly there are quite a few, mostly involving the drowning of lovelorn maidens. A simple but appealing one, from a Native American tradition, sees the waterlily as a star that has fallen to earth.

Yet none of these legends pick up on the  opening-and-closing-for-three-days-then-sinking characteristic of at least our hardy variety of water lily. 

If any readers are inspired, perhaps they would like to create a 'myth' to illustrate and explain the water lily's miraculous behaviour. 

Comments are now public, so anyone can have a try.


  1. It's true that this remarkable occurrence seems to merit a myth of its own.

    It must be a story about one of the gods' love affairs. Perhaps Apollo, since this lily seems to flower in the hottest part of the year, and only during the day. Perhaps Apollo and the water nymph spent three days together? Then, presumably, she was taken back by a jealous Poseidon. This yearly tribute is in memory of those three days.

  2. Acanthus: delightful contribution! I am sure Graves would have approved.

  3. I think Acanthus's myth is totally plausible. But a less classic (and possibly misogynistic)explanation might well focus less on Apollo and Poseidon and more on the nymph as the main agent in this beautifully recounted, and photoed, account of a lovely event. Just another angle!
    And so....
    Oh, cruel water lily,
    Lady that though surely art,
    Why dost so tease and taunt us
    In this unhappy fashion?

    Mean-minded, you show your face
    On just three days in the year -
    Totally insufficient
    To satisfy our passion.


Comments are welcome but will be checked before publishing.