National Flower of Sri Lanka - Blue Water Lily

Sri Lanka - Nil Mānel, Water Lily (Nymphaea stellata). Although "Nil" means ‘blue’ in Sinhala, the Sinhalese name of this plant is often rendered as "Water Lily" in English. 
This beautiful aquatic flower appears in the Sigiriya frescoes and has been mentioned in Sanskrit, Pali and Sinhala literary works since ancient times under the names "Kuvalaya", "Indhīwara", "Niluppala", "Nilothpala" and "Nilupul" as a symbol of virtue, discipline and purity. Buddhist lore in Sri Lanka claims that this flower was one of the 108 auspicious signs found on Prince Siddhartha's footprint.

Nymphaea nouchali, commonly known as the Red and blue water lily, Blue star water lily, Star lotus, or by its synonym Nymphaea stellata, is a water lily of genus Nymphaea.
This aquatic plant is native to the Indian Subcontinent area. It was spread to other countries already in ancient times and has been long valued as a garden flower in Thailand and Myanmar to decorate ponds and gardens. In its natural state the Red and blue water-lily is found in static or slow-flowing aquatic habitats of little to moderate depth.

Nymphaea nouchali is a day blooming non-viviparous plant with submerged roots and stems. Part of the leaves are submerged, while others rise slightly above the surface. The leaves are round and green on top; they usually have a darker underside. The floating leaves have undulating edges that give them a crenellate appearance. Their size is about 20–23 cm and their spread is 0.9 to 1.8 m.

This water-lily has a beautiful flower which is usually violet blue in color with reddish edges. Some varieties have white, purple, mauve or fuchsia-colored flowers. The flower has 4-5 sepals and 13-15 petals that have an angular appearance making the flower look star-shaped from above. The cup-like calyx has a diameter of 11–14 cm.

Nymphaea nouchali is the National flower of Bangladesh (where it is known as "Shapla") and Sri Lanka (where it is known as Nil Mānel or "Nil Mahanel"). Since "Nil" means ‘blue’ in Sinhala, the Sinhalese name of this plant is often rendered as "blue lotus" in English.

In Sri Lanka this plant usually grows in buffalo ponds and natural wetlands. Its beautiful aquatic flower has been mentioned in Sanskrit, Pali and Sinhala literary works since ancient times under the names "Kuvalaya", "Indhīwara", "Niluppala", "Nilothpala" and "Nilupul" as a symbol of virtue, discipline and purity. Buddhist lore in Sri Lanka claims that this flower was one of the 108 auspicious signs found on Prince Siddhartha's footprint. It is said that when Buddha died, lotus flowers blossomed everywhere he had walked in his lifetime. The star lotus might have been one of the plants eaten by the Lotophagi of Homer's Odyssey.

The Red and blue water-lily is used as an ornamental plant because of its spectacular flowers. It is also popular as an aquarium plant under the name "Dwarf Lily" or "Dwarf Red Lily". Sometimes it is grown for its flowers, while other aquarists prefer to trim the lily pads, and just have the underwater foliage.

Nymphaea nouchali is considered a medicinal plant in Indian Ayurvedic medicine under the name Ambal; it was mainly used to treat indigestion. Recent experiments have confirmed that it has medicinal qualities as an antihepatotoxic and antidiabetic. Like all water lilies or lotuses, its tubers and rhizomes can be used as food items; they are eaten usually boiled or roasted. In the case of the Red and blue water-lily, its tender leaves and flower peduncles are also valued as food. The dried plant is collected from ponds, tanks and marshes during the dry season and used in India as animal forage.

The white water lily is the national flower of Bangladesh and State flower for Andhra Pradesh, India. The Blue water lily is the national flower of Sri Lanka. It is also the birth flower for July.

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National Flower of Pakistan - Poet's Jasmine

The National symbols of the country constituting the nation-state such as the Poet's Jasmine (National flower of Pakistan) and Rhododendron the (State flower) and the Chinar (State tree) in the Regional state of Jammu and Kashmir (disputed territory), Deodar (National tree of Pakistan), Mango (National fruit of Pakistan).

Jasminum officinale (Common Jasmine, Poet's Jasmine, Jessamine) is a species of jasmine, in the family Oleaceae, famous for its scent.

Jasminum officinale is so ancient in cultivation that its country of origin, though somewhere in Central Asia, is not certain. H.L. Li, The Garden Flowers of China, notes that in the third century CE, jasmines identifiable as J. officinale and J. sambac were recorded among "foreign" plants in Chinese texts, and that in ninth century Chinese texts J. officinale was said to come from Byzantium. Its Chinese name, Yeh-hsi-ming is a version of the Persian and Arabic name.

Its entry into European gardens was most likely through the Arab-Norman culture of Sicily, but, as the garden historian John Harvey has said, "surprisingly little is known, historically or archaeologically, of the cultural life of pre-Norman Sicily". In the mid-14th century the Florentine Boccaccio in his Decameron describes a walled garden in which "the sides of the alleys were all, as it were, walled in with roses white and red and jasmine; insomuch that there was no part of the garden but one might walk there not merely in the morning but at high noon in grateful shade." Jasmine water also features in the story of Salabaetto in the Decameron. Jasminum officinale, "of the household office" where perfumes were distilled, was so thoroughly naturalized that Linnaeus thought it was native to Switzerland. As a garden plant in London it features in William Turner's Names of Herbes, 1548.

Double forms, here as among many flowers, were treasured in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is widely recognized as the National flower of Pakistan.

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National Flower of Nepal - Rhododendron

Rhododendron (from Ancient Greek όδον rhódon "rose" and δένδρον déndron "tree") is a genus of over 1000 species of woody plants in the heath family, most with showy flowers. It includes the plants known to gardeners as azaleas.

Rhododendron is a genus characterized by shrubs and small to (rarely) large trees, the smallest species growing to 10–100 centimetres (3.9–39 in) tall, and the largest, R. giganteum, reported to over 30 metres (98 ft) tall. The leaves are spirally arranged; leaf size can range from 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) to over 50 cm (20 in), exceptionally 100 cm (39 in) in R. sinogrande. They may be either evergreen or deciduous. In some species the underside of the leaves is covered with scales (lepidote) or hairs (indumentum). Some of the best known species are noted for their many clusters of large flowers. There are alpine species with small flowers and small leaves, and tropical species such as section Vireya that often grow as epiphytes. Species in this genus may be part of the heath complex in oak-heath forests in eastern North America.

Both species and hybrid rhododendrons (including azaleas) are used extensively as ornamental plants in landscaping in many parts of the world, and many species and cultivars are grown commercially for the nursery trade. Rhododendrons are often valued in landscaping for their structure, size, flowers, and the fact that many of them are evergreen. Azaleas are frequently used around foundations and occasionally as hedges, and many larger-leafed rhododendrons lend themselves well to more informal plantings and woodland gardens, or as specimen plants. In some areas, larger rhododendrons can be pruned to encourage more tree-like form, with some species such as R. arboreum and R. falconeri eventually growing to 10–15 m or more tall.

Commercial growing
Rhododendrons are grown commercially in many areas for sale, and are occasionally collected in the wild, a practice now rare in most areas. Larger commercial growers often ship long distances; in the United States most of them are located on the west coast (Oregon, Washington and California). Large-scale commercial growing often selects for different characteristics that hobbyist growers might want, such as resistance to root rot when over-watered, ability to be forced into budding early, ease of rooting or other propagation, and sale ability. In the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, Rhododendron flowers, have been used for some time to make popular fruit and flower wines. The industry is promoted by the state government with tax benefits, looking to promote this industry as a full fledged sub class of its economy.

Culture & Symbolism
Rhododendron ponticum is the state flower of Indian-administered Kashmir and Pakistan Controlled Kashmir. Rhododendron arboreum (Lali Guransh) is the national flower of Nepal. Rhododendron niveum is the state tree of Sikkim in India. Rhododendron is also the state tree of the state of Uttarakhand, India.

Rhododendron catawbiense, the most widespread rhododendron of the Appalachian Mountains, is the state flower of West Virginia, and is in the Flag of West Virginia. Rhododendron macrophyllum, a widespread rhododendron of the Pacific Northwest, is the state flower of Washington.

In Joyce's Ulysses, rhododendrons play an important role in Leopold and Molly's early courtship: Molly remembers them in her soliloquy - "the sun shines for you he said the day we were lying among the rhododendrons on Howth head in the grey tweed suit and his straw hat the day I got him to propose to me".

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National Flower of Maldives - Pink Rose

Garden roses are mostly hybrid roses that are grown as ornamental plants in private or public gardens. They are one of the most popular and widely cultivated group of flowering plants, especially in temperate climates. Numerous cultivars have been produced, especially over the last two centuries, though roses have been known in the garden for millennia beforehand. While most garden roses are grown for their flowers, some are also valued for other reasons, such as having ornamental fruit, providing ground cover, or for hedging.

It is believed that roses were grown in all the early civilizations of temperate latitudes from at least 5000 years ago. They are known to have been grown in ancient Babylon. Records exist of them being grown in Chinese gardens and Greek gardens from at least 500 BC. Most of the plants grown in these early gardens are likely to have been either species collected from the wild, or selections from them.

The significant breeding of modern times started slowly in Europe, from about the seventeenth century. This was encouraged by the introduction of new species, and especially by the introduction of the China rose in the nineteenth century. An enormous range of roses has been bred since then, often grouped according to parentage, use or floral form.

Wild Roses
The wild roses (also known as species roses) include the natural species and some of their hybrids. The wild roses commonly grown in gardens include Rosa moschata, the Musk Rose; Rosa banksiae, Lady Banks' Rose; Rosa pimpinellifolia, the Scots or Burnet Rose; Rosa rubiginosa, the Sweetbriar or Eglantine; and Rosa foetida, in varieties Austrian Copper, Persian Double and Harison's Yellow. For most of these, the plants found in cultivation are often selected clones that are propagated vegetatively. Wild roses are low-maintenance shrubs in comparison to other garden roses, usually tolerating poor soil and some shade. They are generally once flowering, but some varieties display large rosehips in the autumn or have colourful autumn foliage.

Old Garden Roses
An Old Garden Rose is defined as any rose belonging to a class which existed before the introduction of the first Modern Rose, La France, in 1867. In general, Old Garden Roses of European or Mediterranean origin are once-blooming woody shrubs, with notably fragrant, double-flowered blooms primarily in shades of white, pink and red. The shrubs' foliage tends to be highly disease-resistant, and they generally bloom only on two-year-old canes. The introduction of China and Tea roses from East Asia around 1800 led to new classes of Old Garden Roses which bloom on new growth, often repeatedly from spring to fall.

Modern Garden Roses
Classification of modern roses can be quite confusing because many modern roses have old garden roses in their ancestry and their form varies so much. The classifications tend to be by growth and flowering characteristics. The following includes the most notable and popular classifications of Modern Garden Roses:

Hybrid Tea
The favourite rose for much of the history of modern roses, hybrid teas were initially created by hybridising Hybrid Perpetuals with Tea roses in the late 19th century. 'La France', created in 1867, is universally acknowledged as the first indication of a new class of roses. Hybrid teas exhibit traits midway between both parents: hardier than the teas but less hardy than the hybrid perpetuals, and more ever-blooming than the hybrid perpetuals but less so than the teas. The flowers are well-formed with large, high-centred buds, and each flowering stem typically terminates in a single shapely bloom. The shrubs tend to be stiffly upright and sparsely foliaged, which today is often seen as a liability because it makes them more difficult to place in the garden or landscape. Hybrid teas became the single most popular garden rose of the 20th century; today, their reputation as high maintenance plants has led to a decline in popularity. The hybrid tea remains the standard rose of the floral industry, however, and is still favoured in formal situations. Examples: 'Peace' (yellow), 'Garden Party' (white), 'Mister Lincoln' (red) and 'Double Delight' (bi-colour cream and red).

The French breeder Joseph Pernet-Ducher initiated the first class of roses to include genes from the old Austrian briar rose (Rosa foetida) with his 1900 introduction of 'Soleil d'Or.' This resulted in an entirely new colour range for roses: shades of deep yellow, apricot, copper, orange, true scarlet, yellow bicolours, lavender, gray, and even brown were now possible. Originally considered a separate class, the Pernetianas or Hybrid Foetidas were officially merged into the Hybrid Teas in 1930. The new colour range did much to increase hybrid tea popularity in the 20th century, but these colours came at a price: Rosa foetida also passed on a tendency toward disease-susceptibility, scentless blooms, and an intolerance of pruning to its descendants.

Literally "many-flowered" roses, from the Greek "poly" (many) and "anthos" (flower). Originally derived from crosses between two East Asian species (Rosa chinensis and Rosa multiflora), polyanthas first appeared in France in the late 19th century alongside the hybrid teas. They featured short plants — some compact, others spreading in habit — with tiny blooms (2.5 cm or 1 inch in diameter on average) carried in large sprays, in the typical rose colours of white, pink and red. Their main claim to fame was their prolific bloom: From spring to fall, a healthy polyantha shrub might be literally covered in flowers, creating a strong colour impact in the landscape. Polyantha roses are still regarded as low-maintenance, disease-resistant garden roses today, and remain popular for that reason. Examples: 'Cecile Brunner', 'The Fairy', 'Red Fairy', 'Pink Fairy'.

In the garden, roses are grown as bushes, shrubs or climbers. "Bushes" are usually comparatively low growing, often quite upright in habit, with multiple stems emerging near ground level; they are often grown formally in beds with other roses. "Shrubs" are usually larger and have a more informal or arching habit, and may additionally be placed in a mixed border or grown separately as specimens. Certain bush hybrids (and smaller shrubs) may also be grown as "standards", which are plants grafted high (typically 1 metre or more) on a rose rootstock, resulting in extra height which can make a dominant feature in a floral display. Climbing roses are usually trained to a suitable support.

Roses are commonly propagated by grafting onto a rootstock, which provides sturdiness and vigour, or (especially with Old Garden Roses) they may be propagated from hardwood cuttings and allowed to develop their own roots.

Most roses thrive in temperate climates. Those based on warm climate Asian species do well in their native sub-tropical environments. Certain species and cultivars can even flourish in tropical climates, especially when grafted onto appropriate rootstocks. Most garden roses prefer rich soil which is well-watered but well-drained, and perform best in well-lit positions which receive several hours of sun a day (although some climbers will tolerate shade). Standard roses require staking.

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National Flower of Iraq - Rose

A rose is a woody perennial of the genus Rosa, within the family Rosaceae. There are over 100 species. They form a group of erect shrubs, and climbing or trailing plants, with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles. Flowers are large and showy, in colours ranging from white through yellows and reds. Most species are native to Asia, with smaller numbers native to Europe, North America, and Northwest Africa. Species, cultivars and hybrids are all widely grown for their beauty and fragrance. Rose plants range in size from compact, miniature roses, to climbers that can reach 7 meters in height. Different species hybridize easily, and this has been used in the development of the wide range of garden roses.

The name rose comes from French, itself from Latin rosa, which was perhaps borrowed from Oscan, from Greek ρόδον rhodon (Aeolic βρόδον wrodon), related to Old Persian wrd-, Avestan varəda, Sogdian ward, Parthian wâr, Armenian vard.

The leaves are borne alternately on the stem. In most species they are 5 to 15 centimetres (2.0 to 5.9 in) long, pinnate, with (3–) 5–9 (–13) leaflets and basal stipules; the leaflets usually have a serrated margin, and often a few small prickles on the underside of the stem. Most roses are deciduous but a few (particularly from Southeast Asia) are evergreen or nearly so.

The flowers of most species have five petals, with the exception of Rosa sericea, which usually has only four. Each petal is divided into two distinct lobes and is usually white or pink, though in a few species yellow or red. Beneath the petals are five sepals (or in the case of some Rosa sericea, four). These may be long enough to be visible when viewed from above and appear as green points alternating with the rounded petals. There are multiple superior ovaries that develop into achenes. Roses are insect-pollinated in nature.

The aggregate fruit of the rose is a berry-like structure called a rose hip. Many of the domestic cultivars do not produce hips, as the flowers are so tightly petalled that they do not provide access for pollination. The hips of most species are red, but a few (e.g. Rosa pimpinellifolia) have dark purple to black hips. Each hip comprises an outer fleshy layer, the hypanthium, which contains 5–160 "seeds" (technically dry single-seeded fruits called achenes) embedded in a matrix of fine, but stiff, hairs. Rose hips of some species, especially the Dog Rose (Rosa canina) and Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa), are very rich in vitamin C, among the richest sources of any plant. The hips are eaten by fruit-eating birds such as thrushes and waxwings, which then disperse the seeds in their droppings. Some birds, particularly finches, also eat the seeds.

While the sharp objects along a rose stem are commonly called "thorns", they are technically prickles — outgrowths of the epidermis (the outer layer of tissue of the stem). (True thorns, as produced by e.g. Citrus or Pyracantha, are modified stems, which always originate at a node and which have nodes and internodes along the length of the thorn itself.) Rose prickles are typically sickle-shaped hooks, which aid the rose in hanging onto other vegetation when growing over it. Some species such as Rosa rugosa and Rosa pimpinellifolia have densely packed straight spines, probably an adaptation to reduce browsing by animals, but also possibly an adaptation to trap wind-blown sand and so reduce erosion and protect their roots (both of these species grow naturally on coastal sand dunes). Despite the presence of prickles, roses are frequently browsed by deer. A few species of roses have only vestigial prickles that have no points.

Roses are best known as ornamental plants grown for their flowers in the garden and sometimes indoors. They have been also used for commercial perfumery and commercial cut flower crops. Some are used as landscape plants, for hedging and for other utilitarian purposes such as game cover and slope stabilization. They also have minor medicinal uses.

Ornamental plants
The majority of ornamental roses are hybrids that were bred for their flowers. A few, mostly species roses are grown for attractive or scented foliage (such as Rosa glauca and Rosa rubiginosa), ornamental thorns (such as Rosa sericea) or for their showy fruit (such as Rosa moyesii).

Ornamental roses have been cultivated for millennia, with the earliest known cultivation known to date from at least 500 BC in Mediterranean countries, Persia, and China. Many thousands of rose hybrids and cultivars have been bred and selected for garden use as flowering plants. Most are double-flowered with many or all of the stamens having mutated into additional petals.

In the early 19th century the Empress Josephine of France patronized the development of rose breeding at her gardens at Malmaison. As long ago as 1840 a collection numbering over one thousand different cultivars, varieties and species was possible when a rosarium was planted by Loddiges nursery for Abney Park Cemetery, an early Victorian garden cemetery and arboretum in England.

A few species and hybrids are grown for non-floral ornamental use. Among these are those grown for prominent hips, such as the flagon shaped hips of Rosa moyesii. Sometimes even the thorns can be treated as an attraction or curiosity, such as with Rosa sericea.

Cut flowers
Roses are a popular crop for both domestic and commercial cut flowers. Generally they are harvested and cut when in bud, and held in refrigerated conditions until ready for display at their point of sale.

In temperate climates, cut roses are often grown in glasshouses, and in warmer countries they may also be grown under cover in order to ensure that the flowers are not damaged by weather and that pests and disease control can be carried out effectively. Significant quantities are grown in some tropical countries, and these are shipped by air to markets across the world.

Rose perfumes are made from attar of roses or rose oil, which is a mixture of volatile essential oils obtained by steam distilling the crushed petals of roses. An associated product is rose water which is used for cooking, cosmetics, medicine and in religious practices. The production technique originated in Persia then spread through Arabia and India, and more recently into eastern Europe. In Bulgaria, Iran and Germany, damask roses (Rosa damascena 'Trigintipetala') are used. In other parts of the world Rosa centifolia is commonly used. The oil is transparent pale yellow or yellow-grey in colour. 'Rose Absolute' is solvent-extracted with hexane and produces a darker oil, dark yellow to orange in colour. The weight of oil extracted is about one three-thousandth to one six-thousandth of the weight of the flowers; for example, about two thousand flowers are required to produce one gram of oil.

The main constituents of attar of roses are the fragrant alcohols geraniol and l-citronellol; and rose camphor, an odourless paraffin. β-Damascenone is also a significant contributor to the scent. Rose water, made as a byproduct of rose oil production, is widely used in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. In France there is much use of rose syrup, most commonly made from an extract of rose petals. In the United States, this French rose syrup is used to make rose scones and marshmallows.

Rose hips
The rose hip, the fruit of some species, is used as a minor source of Vitamin C. Rose hips are occasionally made into jam, jelly, and marmalade, or are brewed for tea, primarily for their high vitamin C content. They are also pressed and filtered to make rose hip syrup. Rose hips are also used to produce Rose hip seed oil, which is used in skin products and some makeup products.

The fruits of many species have significant levels of vitamins and have been used as a food supplement (see previous section). Many roses have been used in herbal and folk medicines. Rosa chinensis has long been used in Chinese traditional medicine. This and other species have been used for stomach problems, and are being investigated for controlling cancer growth.

Roses are a favored subject in art and therefore used in various artistic disciplines. They appear in portraits, illustrations, on stamps, as ornaments or as architectural elements. The Luxembourg born Belgian artist and botanist Pierre-Joseph Redouté is known for his detailed water colours of flowers, particularly roses.

Henri Fantin-Latour was also a prolific painter of still life, particularly flowers including roses. The Rose 'Fantin-Latour' was named after the artist. Other impressionists including Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne and Pierre-Auguste Renoir have paintings of roses among their works. The long cultural history of the rose has led to it being used often as a symbol.

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National Flower of Iran - Tulip

The tulip is a perennial, bulbous plant with showy flowers in the genus Tulipa, which comprises 109 species and belongs to the family Liliaceae. The genus's native range extends from as far west as Southern Europe, North Africa, Anatolia, and Iran to the Northwest of China. The tulip's centre of diversity is in the Pamir, Hindu Kush, and Tien Shan mountains. A number of species and many hybrid cultivars are grown in gardens, as potted plants, or to display as fresh-cut flowers. Most cultivars of tulip are derived from Tulipa gesneriana.

Tulips are spring-blooming perennials that grow from bulbs. Depending on the species, tulip plants can grow as short as 4 inches (10 cm) or as high as 28 inches (71 cm). The tulip's large flowers usually bloom on scapes or subscapose stems that lack bracts. Most tulips produce only one flower per stem, but a few species bear multiple flowers on their scapes (e.g. Tulipa turkestanica). The showy, generally cup- or star-shaped tulip flower has three petals and three sepals, which are often termed tepals because they are nearly identical. These six tepals are often marked near the bases with darker colorings. Tulip flowers come in a wide variety of colors, except pure blue (several tulips with "blue" in the name have a faint violet hue).

The flowers have six distinct, basifixed stamens with filaments shorter than the tepals. Each stigma of the flower has three distinct lobes, and the ovaries are superior, with three chambers. The tulip's fruit is a capsule with a leathery covering and an ellipsoid to subglobose shape. Each capsule contains numerous flat, disc-shaped seeds in two rows per chamber. These light to dark brown seeds have very thin seed coats and endosperm that does not normally fill the entire seed.

Tulip stems have few leaves, with larger species tending to have multiple leaves. Plants typically have 2 to 6 leaves, with some species having up to 12. The tulip's leaf is strap-shaped, with a waxy coating, and leaves are alternately arranged on the stem. These fleshy blades are often bluish green in color.

Origin of the name
Although tulips are often associated with The Netherlands, commercial cultivation of the flower began in the Ottoman Empire. The tulip, or lale (from Persian) as it is also called in Iran and Turkey, is a flower indigenous to a vast area encompassing arid parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe. The word tulip, which earlier appeared in English in forms such as tulipa or tulipant, entered the language by way of French tulipe and its obsolete form tulipan or by way of Modern Latin tulīpa, from Ottoman Turkish tülbend ("muslin" or "gauze"), and is ultimately derived from Persian dulband ("round").

Tulips are indigenous to mountainous areas with temperate climates and need a period of cool dormancy, known as vernalization. They thrive in climates with long, cool springs and dry summers. Although perennials, tulip bulbs are often imported to warm-winter areas of the world from cold-winter areas, and are planted in the fall to be treated as annuals.

Tulip bulbs are typically planted around late summer and fall, in well-drained soils, normally from 4 inches (10 cm) to 8 inches (20 cm) deep, depending on the type planted. In parts of the world that do not have long cool springs and dry summers, the bulbs are often planted up to 12 inches (300 mm) deep. This provides some insulation from the heat of summer, and tends to encourage the plants to regenerate one large, floriferous bulb each year, instead of many smaller, non-blooming ones. This can extend the life of a tulip plant in warmer-winter areas by a few years, but it does not stave off degradation in bulb size and the eventual death of the plant due to the lack of vernalization.

Tulips can be propagated through bulb offsets, seeds or micro-propagation. Offsets and tissue culture methods are means of asexual propagation for producing genetic clones of the parent plant, which maintains cultivar genetic integrity. Seed-raised plants show greater genetic variation, and seeds are most often used to propagate species and subspecies or to create new hybrids. Many tulip species can cross-pollinate with each other, and when wild tulip populations overlap geographically with other tulip species or subspecies, they often hybridize and create genetically mixed populations. On the other hand, most commercial tulip cultivars are complex hybrids, and actually sterile. Those hybrid plants that do produce seeds most often have offspring dissimilar to the parents.

Growing salable tulips from offsets requires a year or more of growth before plants are large enough to flower. Tulips grown from seeds often need five to eight years of growth before plants are flowering size. Commercial growers usually harvest the tulip bulbs in late summer and grade them into sizes; bulbs large enough to flower are sorted and sold, while smaller bulbs are sorted into sizes and replanted, for sale in the future. Holland is the world's main producer of commercially sold tulip plants, producing as many as 3 billion bulbs annually, the majority for export.

In art and culture
During the Ottoman Empire, the tulip became very popular in Ottoman territories and was seen as a symbol of abundance and indulgence. In fact, the era during which the Ottoman Empire was wealthiest is often called the Tulip era or Lale Devri in Turkish.

In classic and modern Persian literature, special attention has been given to these beautiful flowers, and in recent times, tulips have featured in the poems of Simin Behbahani. However, the tulip was a topic for Persian poets as far back as the thirteenth century. Musharrifu'd-din Saadi, in his poem Gulistan, described a visionary, garden paradise with 'The murmur of a cool stream / bird song, ripe fruit in plenty / bright multicoloured tulips and fragrant roses...'

The Black Tulip is the title of a historical romance by the French author Alexandre Dumas, père. The story takes place in the Dutch city of Haarlem, where a reward is offered to the first grower who can produce a truly black tulip.

Today, Tulip festivals are held around the world, including in The Netherlands, Spalding, England. Every spring, there are several tulip festivals in North America, including the Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Michigan, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Skagit Valley, Washington, the Tulip Time Festival in Orange City and Pella, Iowa, and the Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa, Canada. Tulips are now also popular in Australia and several festivals are held in September and October, during the Southern Hemisphere's spring.

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National Flower of India - Lotus

The flower of India is also the Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera). The reason this flower was chosen is because it signifies that which keeps itself pure even when living in a rough environment.

Nelumbo nucifera, known by a number of names including Indian Lotus, Sacred Lotus, Bean of India, or simply Lotus, is a plant in the monogeneric family Nelumbonaceae. The Linnaean binomial Nelumbo nucifera (Gaertn.) is the currently recognized name for this species, which has been classified under the former names, Nelumbium speciosum (Willd.) and Nymphaea nelumbo, among others. Names other than Nelumbo nucifera (Gaertn.) are obsolete synonyms and should not be used in current works. This plant is an aquatic perennial. Under favorable circumstances its seeds may remain viable for many years, with the oldest recorded lotus germination being from that of seeds 1,300 years old recovered from a dry lakebed in northeastern China.

A common misconception is referring to the lotus as a water lily (Nymphaea), an entirely different plant as can be seen from the center of the flower, which clearly lacks the structure that goes on to form the distinctive circular seed pod in the Nelumbo nucifera. Water lilies come in various colors, whereas the lotus has flowers ranging in hues of white to hot pink.

Native to Tropical Asia and Queensland, Australia, it is commonly cultivated in water gardens. The white and pink lotuses are national flowers of India and Vietnam, respectively.

Plant taxonomy systems agree that this flower is in the Nelumbo genus, but disagree as to which family Nelumbo is in, or whether it should be part of its own unique family and order tree.

The roots of Nelumbo nucifera are planted in the soil of the pond or river bottom, while the leaves float on top of the water surface or are held well above it. The flowers are usually found on thick stems rising several centimeters above the leaves. The plant normally grows up to a height of about 150 cm and a horizontal spread of up to 3 meters, but some unverified reports place the height as high as over 5 meters. The leaves may be as large as 60 cm in diameter, while the showy flowers can be up to 20 cm in diameter.

Researchers report that the lotus has the remarkable ability to regulate the temperature of its flowers to within a narrow range just as humans and other warm blooded animals do. Dr. Roger S. Seymour and Dr. Paul Schultze-Motel, physiologists at the University of Adelaide in Australia, found that lotus flowers blooming in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens maintained a temperature of 30–35 °C (86–95 °F), even when the air temperature dropped to 10 °C (50 °F). They suspect the flowers may be doing this to attract coldblooded insect pollinators. The study, published in the journal Nature, is the latest discovery in the esoteric field of heat-producing plants. Two other species known to be able to regulate their temperature include Symplocarpus foetidus and Philodendron selloum.

The traditional Sacred Lotus is distantly related to Nymphaea caerulea and possesses similar chemistry. Both Nymphaea caerulea and Nelumbo nucifera contain the alkaloids nuciferine and aporphine.

The distinctive dried seed heads, which resemble the spouts of watering cans, are widely sold throughout the world for decorative purposes and for dried flower arranging. The flowers, seeds, young leaves, and "roots" (rhizomes) are all edible. In Asia, the petals are sometimes used for garnish, while the large leaves are used as a wrap for food, not frequently eaten. In Korea, the leaves and petals are used as a tisane. Yeonkkotcha is made with dried petals of white lotus and yeonipcha is made with the leaves. Young lotus stems are used as a salad ingredient in Vietnamese cuisine. The rhizome is used as a vegetable in soups, deep-fried, stir-fried, and braised dishes and the roots are also used in traditional Asian herbal medicine. Petals, leaves, and rhizome can also all be eaten raw, but there is a risk of parasite transmission, it is therefore recommended that they be cooked before eating.

Lotus rootlets are often pickled with rice vinegar, sugar, chili and/or garlic. It has a crunchy texture with sweet-tangy flavours. In Asian cuisine, it is popular with salad, prawns, sesame oil and/or coriander leaves. Lotus roots have been found to be rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, copper, and manganese, while very low in saturated fat.

The stamens can be dried and made into a fragrant herbal tea called liánhuā cha in Chinese, or (particularly in Vietnam) used to impart a scent to tea leaves. The lotus seeds or nuts are quite versatile, and can be eaten raw or dried and popped like popcorn, phool makhana. They can also be boiled until soft and made into a paste, or boiled with dried longans and rock sugar to make a tong sui (sweet soup). Combined with sugar, lotus seed paste becomes one of the most common ingredients used in pastries such as moon cakes, daifuku, and rice flour pudding.

In Vietnam, the bitter tasting germs of the lotus seeds are also made into a tisane (trà tim sen). A unique fabric from the lotus plant fibers is produced only at Inle lake, Union of Myanmar and is used for weaving special robes for Buddha images called kya thingahn (lotus robe).

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