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What Do Water Lilies Symbolize?

water lilly image by Alan Pickersgill from

A water lily is also known as a lotus. Depictions of the lotus can be traced back to the tombs of ancient Egypt. The water lily is an important symbol in many religions including Buddhism and Hinduism.

Egyptian Symbolism

The water lily symbolized Upper Egypt and was used, along with the papyrus flower, symbol of Lower Egypt, to depict a united country. The blue water lily was sacred to the Egyptians to whom it represented the sun and rebirth.

Hindu and Buddhist Symbolism

Water lilies are an important religious symbol in the Hindu and Buddhist traditions. They symbolize resurrection in both spiritual arenas because many of the lilies close their flowers at night and reopen in the morning at first sunlight. Buddhists regard the water lily as a symbol of enlightenment because of the beautiful bloom that emerges from the mud. They also consider the water lily a symbol of purity, spontaneous generation and divine birth.

Bridal Bouquest

Contemporary brides sometimes choose flowers for their bouquets based on the symbolism of the blossom. A water lily represents purity of heart.

Fun Facts

There are more than 70 species of plants in the Nympheaceae family, including the water lily. The three types of water lily are the night, tropical and hardy.


lily image by Mirek Hejnicki from

Water lily flowers can be pink, yellow or white. They are aquatic plants found in lakes, ponds and the edges of streams.

Facts On Water Lilies

Water lilies (Nymphaea spp.) are some of the world's most beautiful and recognizable plants. Elegant water lilies are the glorious floral topping to classic frog-laden lily pads. At night, they gently close. Tropical varieties bloom during any time of the day or night, and blooms stay open until they fade. Water lily flowers are as different as their origins, though their shapes and petals are similar. Hardy, native water lilies have simpler flowers that retain a watery wildflower-like look and are commonly white and yellow. Besides being the birth flower for July, the blue lotus (Nymphaea caerulea), hardy in USDA zones 10 through 12, is also the celebrated national flower of Sri Lanka, a country off the southeastern coast of India. The water lily is an object used repeatedly in the oil paintings of French Impressionist Claude Monet (1840-1926).

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