1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lotus

LOTUS, a popular name applied to several plants. The lotus fruits of the Greeks belonged to Zizyphus Lotus', a bush native in south Europe with fruits as large as sloes, containing a mealy substance which can be used for making bread and also a fer- mented drink. In ancient times the fruits were an important article of food among the poor; whence " lotophagi " or lotus- eaters. Zizyphus is a member of the natural order Rhamnaceae to which belongs the British buckthorn. The Egyptian lotus was a water-lily, Nymphaea Lotus; as also is the sacred lotus of the Hindus, Nelumbium speciosum. The lotus tree, known to the Romans as the Libyan lotus, and planted by them for shade, was probably Celtis australis, the nettle-tree (q.v.), a southern European tree, a native of the elm family, with fruits like small cherries, which are first red and then black. Lotus of botanists is a genus of the pea-family (Leguminosae) , containing a large number of species of herbs and undershrubs widely distributed in the temperate regions of the old world. It is represented in Britain by L. corniculatus, bird's foot trefoil, a low-growing herb, common in pastures and waste places, with clusters of small bright yellow pea-like flowers, which are often streaked with crimson; the popular name is derived from the pods which when ripe spread like the toes of a bird's foot.