Water LilyA water lily photographed by Glenn Franco Simmons in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. by Glenn Franco Simmons
Back in the primordial epoch of the Earth’s ancient history in an anonymous tranquil pond on this uniquely blue planet, colorful creations of God’s were taking shape: water lilies.
“These aquatic plants, often celebrated for their ethereal beauty that adorned the water's surface, were more than just ornamental,” according to AI-Pro. “They were integral to the aquatic ecosystem, providing food and breeding spaces for several species of fish and water-dwelling insects.
“The life of a water lily technically started in the murky soil at the bottom of bodies of freshwater, including ponds, lakes and the calm edges of flowing rivers. As a family member of Nymphaeaceae, water lilies comprise approximately 70 known species scattered worldwide, save for some areas of the coldest tundra.”
Back in the primeval depths of the pond’s water, a rhizome took root.
“From this rhizome emerged a long slender stalk, unidirectionally reaching towards the forgiving light permeating through the water surface,” AI-Pro states. “This journey of growth symbolized resilience and hope intrinsic to the life of a water lily.
“Once the stem surfaced, it unfolded its unique leaf, characteristically known for its round shape and characteristic notch from the rim to the center. This leaf, called a lily pad, with its waxy upper surface, was resilient to water. It floated tranquilly on the water, seeking sunlight, while conducting photosynthesis and restoring energy for the plant. The lily pad also played a home for other tiny aquatic critters and insects, adding to the vitality and diversity of the pond life.”
For me, the most-enchanting part of looking at water lilies is when they bloom! Water lilies’ flowers feature a vibrant range of colors that include pink, yellow and blue. They are awesome for attracting pollinators.
“Insects including bees and beetles responded to the sweet allure of the flowers’ scent and the promise of nectar,” according to AI-Pro. “Some water lilies bloom only during the daytime ~ these are the lotus-like species, while others awaken at night, their nighttime beauty accentuating the mystical aura of the pond under the vague silvery moonlight. When pollination occurs, either self-induced or through these pollinators, the flowers once bloomed withered, drawing back into the water, where the process of seed formation happened. These mature seeds then got dispersed in the water, ready to initiate a new cycle of life, continuing the legacy of the water lilies.
“The water lilies also serve as food for certain species, forming part of the ecosystem's food chain. Their starchy rhizomes were particularly sought by wildlife, including beavers and muskrats. Having a lifespan generally ranging from several weeks to few months, every water lily leaf and flower lived a full life, essential to both its species and the biodiversity it supported.
“However, they were also valuable to humans, both symbolically and practically,” AI-Pro continues. “Beyond being a decorative feature in garden ponds and water features, they were revered as religious and spiritual symbols in several cultures. In some societies, parts of water lilies were also harvested as food or for medicinal properties.
“Thus, the lives of water lilies sketched an intricate story, as beautiful and resonating as their appearance. Their tranquil presence and ecological role in the world's water bodies highlighted an extraordinary balance and harmony of nature. Their silent saga served as a shining testament to the intricate, interconnected tapestry of life.”