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Water Lily flowers are wonderfully showy and fragrant, lasting only a few days. Some open during the day and close at night, others the opposite. Most are pollinated by beetles. They have a unique pollination strategy. On the first day that the flower blooms, its pollen is not yet released, and instead, a fluid fills the center of the flower, covering the female parts. Should an insect visit the flower, the design of the petals causes it to fall into the fluid. If the insect is covered in pollen, the pollen dissolves in the fluid and fertilizes the flower. The next day, no fluid is produced, and pollen is released instead. The insect that falls into the fluid usually emerges unharmed, although a few unlucky ones may be trapped and drown.

A few days after the water lily flower is pollinated, the flower stem tightens in a spiralling spring to bring the flower head underwater. The fruit develops underwater into a spongy berry with many seeds that are enclosed in arils. When ripe, up to 2,000 seeds are released from each fruit. Young seeds float as they contain air pockets. They are then dispersed by water currents or by water birds that eat them. As they become waterlogged, they sink into the mud to germinate. The plant also spreads by sprouting from the creeping rhizomes.

The flat round lily pad leaves have a waxy water-repellent upper side. The underside, however, seems to cling to the water by surface tension. Some water lily leaves are purple underneath, the pigments helping to concentrate the sunlight to maximizes photosynthesis. The leaf stem is hollow and transports air from the surface to the underwater rhizomes which can grow to a massive size. Water lilies grow best in calm freshwater.

The American Indians made flour out of dried roots by pounding them. The flour was then baked into pancakes. The young leaves and flower buds were eaten as vegetables, seeds were eaten fried. The plant was used to treat many ailments. Mashed green roots were used as poultice for swollen limbs; the roots for problems of the womb, digestive problems, a rinse for mouth sores; leaves and flowers as cooling compresses.

The water lily flower is symbolic of rebirth, but in addition to its religious meaning, it is also a symbol of all that is true, good and beautiful, representing good fortune, peace and enlightenment. Within Hinduism and Buddhism the water lily and lotus flower has become a symbol for awakening to the spiritual reality of life. These flowers represent life in general. As the flower grows up from the mud into an object of great beauty, people also grow and change into something more beautiful. The symbol represents the struggle of life at its most basic form. Water lily and lotus flower symbols are also popular for people who have gone through a hard time and are now coming out of it. Like the flower they have been at the bottom in the muddy pond, but have risen above this to be an object of beauty. Thus these blossoms can also represent a hard time in life that has been overcome. Koi fish and lotus flowers can often be found in the same pond in front of a temple. The Koi is a symbol typically for strength and individualism. Wear a water lily for good luck and as a symbol of life
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