Monday, November 25, 2013

A Lily Pad or a Lotus Pad?

This a topic which is important to me.  When I started my iron art business I decided to focus on botanical objects.  My formal educational background was not strong in that area and I knew a lot more about zoological subjects.  One of my Grandfathers had a small tree farm and, as a teenager, I helped him plant seedlings which he later donated to newly developing treeless neighborhoods.  Eventually, I developed a strong interest in gardening and landscaping.  Botany was a subject of personal investigation and my knowledge is still spotty but I strive to be reasonably accurate in how I portray the species I render in my ironwork.

First, I pick a specific plant because there is a lot of variation from one variety to another.  I usually pick plants which grow locally or are commonly seen in nearby botanical gardens.  

When I started making water plant sculptures I made a version of cattail first.  It seemed the simplest and was a popular sculptural element.  Later I added horsetail, bamboo, arrow arum, pickerelweed, and lily pads.  When I started making the pads I noticed that some images showed a circular leaf with a radial notch and some were fully round.  As I did the investigation I found I and others confused two different groups of water plants - thinking they were one.

In botanical water gardens we often see examples of both.  Initially I lumped them together as close relatives.  They are not.  Nymphaeaceae is a family of flowering plants commonly called water lilies and live as rhizomatous aquatic herbs in temperate and tropical climates. I make one version of that group.

Nelumbonaceae is a different family of flowering plants with only two species.  I decided I would make both the American Yellow Lotus, Nelumbo lutea, and the sacred lotus, Nelumbo nucifera.

The American yellow lotus has the round leaf with the radial notch and the sacred lotus has the fully round leaf.  My version of the water lily also has a pad with a radial notch.  There are other differences in the a

natomy and morphology of the plants also which may be important depending upon how closely the sculpture needs to represent the plant.

This is a link which gives a pictoral explanation of some differences.

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