Illustrations of Indian Botany, Vol. 1/Nelumbiaceae
This order is so closely allied in most respects to the former, that a very brief notice, after the very detailed one given of Nymphoeacece will suffice to explain its peculiarities which solely appertain to the fruit. In place of the many-celled and many-seeded cells placed in a circle round the central axis of Nymphoeacece, these, have an excessively enlarged fleshy disk, enclosing in hollows of its substance, the ovaries, which are numerous, separate, monspermous, with a simple style and stigma: the mature nuts are half buried in its substance, from which they finally become loose and separate. They further differ in having exalbuminous seed. The embryo is large, with two fleshy cotyledons, and a highly developed plumule enclosed in its proper membrane. In habit they agree with Nymphoeacece.
In their Affinities, Geographical Distribution, and Properties, these two orders are so intimately united, that to go over these with reference to Nelumbiaceae, would be merely to repeat much that has been already said respecting Nymphoeacece, suffice it therefore to say, that they are distributed widely over the northern hemisphere, Nelumbium speciosum occupying the still waters of the old, while N. luteum occupies those of the new world. In this country and China, both the creeping root-like stems and nuts, are used as food.
The leaf and flower stalks of this plant abound in spiral tubes more loosely combined, and perhaps stronger, than the same vessels in most other vascular plants. These in the southern provinces are extracted with great care by gently breaking the stems, and slowly drawing apart the ends. Long pieces of the spiral filament, composing the tube, are thus uncoiled. With these filaments " are prepared those wicks which on great and solemn religious occasions are burnt in the lamps of the Hindoos placed before the shrines of their gods."—Ainslie. Similar wicks are prepared from the spiral tubes of some of the Nymphoeae but are not thought so sacred.
In sowing the seed of this plant it is customary to enclose them in a ball of clay before throwing them into the water.
EXPLANATION OF PLATE 9.
1, 2. Nelumbium speciosum, (white variety) flower, and part, (little more than one-fourth) of a leaf—natural size.
3. Stamens, and greatly enlarged, fleshy disk, with the ovaries in situ—natural size.
4. Stamens magnified, back and front view.
5. Disk cut vertically, showing the hollows in its Substance, and enclosed ovaries—somewhat magnified.
6. Ovary removed. 7. The same cut vertically, showing the pendulous ovule—both magnified.
8. A mature fruit, the carpels half enclosed, and becoming loose—natural size.
9. A nut. 10,11. The same cut transversely and vertically.
12. Embryo enclosed in its proper sac.
13. The same removed from the sac, and somewhat unfolded—all more or less magnified.