King lotus

King lotus is much bigger than normal one and very beautiful. The flower is up to 30-40cm in diameter, snow white outside and red inside. The flower is white the first evening it opens, by dawn petal closes. When the flower reopens on the second evening it has changed color to dark red of purplish red. The pollen is far from pistil and must be pollinated by insects.

The purplish red undersurface of its leaf has a network of ribs clad in abundant sharp spines possibly a defence against herbivorous fishes and manatees. Air trapped in the spaces between the ribs enables the leaves to float. They are so buoyant that they can easily support the weight of a small child of 20-30kg, and a mature leaf can support 75 kg of sand if the load is evenly distributed.

The root of the king lotus is very developed but cannot be used for replanting so it must be multiplied by seeds. The flowers are relatively short-lived, lasting only 48 hours or so, the pod bending down towards the mud dropping seeds into water. The seed has the size of a bean, but they grow very fast. It produces flower after 4-6 months of cultivation often in spring.  King lotus’s seed is delicious and is called “water corn” by native people

King lotus has strange ability to moderate temperature in upper and undersurface of the leaves. Cells in leaves have green pigment able to convert sunlight into heat, heating up the undersurface to help balance out the temperature between the two sides of the leaf. A network of ribs clad and long spines diffuse heat, protecting the leaves from being burned by tropical sunlight. The flower generates great heat when blooming. The temperature in a blossoming flower is higher than environment temperature by more than 10 degrees Celsius. This question is still waiting for scientists to study.