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Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea (Savigny) Verdc.

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This species is known in English as Egyptian lotus, blue lotus, blue water lily (RSA), Cape water lily (RSA), frog's pulpit (RSA), blue lotus of the Nile, blue waterlily, blue Egyptian lotus, blue Egyptian water lily (India), sacred blue lily of the Nile (India), Cape blue waterlily (USA) and sacred blue lily.

Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea is a clump-forming, perennial, spongy, black, tuberous rhizomes anchored in the pond mud by spreading roots. It does not have true stems. Instead, the leaves are on long petioles that arise directly from the rhizome. The leaves are large and flat, rounded or oval, up to 40 cm in diameter, with notched margins, and cleft almost to the center where the petiole is attached. One plant can spread over an area of about 1 m. The large elegant blue flowers are held well above the water at the tip of a sturdy green stalk and appear almost continuously from spring until the end of summer. They are star-like, with four sepals, green on the outside, white to blue on the inside, and many blue petals. In the center of the flower are numerous blue-tipped, bright golden yellow stamens.

Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea is partial to fully dormant in winter, losing all its leaves in the colder interior parts of South Africa but often retaining a few leaves in milder coastal areas. New leaf growth begins in early summer and the plants’ flowers in profusion from November to March.

Native to: Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Provinces, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Free State, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Northern Provinces, Oman, Palestine, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe.

Introduced into: Argentina Northeast, Ascension, Assam, Bangladesh, Brazil Northeast, Brazil South, Brazil Southeast, Cook Is., Costa Rica, Fiji, Mauritius, New South Wales, New Zealand North, Queensland, Society Is., Tubuai Is.

Submitted by
Heiko Bleher
-21.4502716, 33.1738625
Geographical region
Eastern Africa
Drainage Basin
River catchment
Water body type
Water body name
Water body part
Water body course
Middle course
Water body: tributary of
Tributary name
Type locality
Conservation status/IUCN Red List
Not Evaluated (NE)
Listed in CITES


Water Chemistry

Water information

Water type
Fresh water
Water color
Clear water
Water transparency
Concentration of sediments
Water temperature
22-27 °C
Water flow/curent

Chemical parameters

Dissolved Oxygen


Plant form
Plant type
Plant size
30-90 cm
Plant growth rate
Plant light demand
Aquarium equipment

Blue Egyptian lotus, owing to its native climate, thrives well with bright light and the addition of carbon dioxide to the water. Short of a carbon dioxide injection system, the plant will grow well as long as it is provided with enough light and a source of nitrates and phosphates.

The plants are ideally grown at depths of up to 60 cm.

In the pond the addition of fishes helps to take care of most insect pests that attack aquatic plants. Fishes will devour the mosquito larvae as well.

Plant care

Water lilies are heavy feeders. In a natural pond the accumulation of humus at the bottom is sufficient to maintain lush growth.

In artificial ponds and particularly for aquarium grown plants, it is important to add sufficient nutrients to the soil. If not the plant will soon use up all available nutrients and stop thriving. Just about every water lily enthusiast will have his or her preferred soil mixture.

Water care

Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea should be planted using a slightly acidic mixture of clay and loam with a pH of 6.1-7.0.