I think this may either make all of you reserve the next flight to our Eden or
vow never to set foot.The author is a retired Hort Prof. @ U of Fl. Enjoy!
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2003 2:42 AM
Subject: MKR: lotus
Hamaca Happenings 5/5/03: Lure of the lotus
Seeing Moran's wonderful picture of the lotus he took while lying
submerged below the magnificent flowers inspired me to tell you about my
experience on Orange Lake.
On one occasion before the lake became almost dry from the recent
drought, I took my airboat out to find the American lotus (Nelumbo lutea).
After examining several other flowering aquatic species of this water
wonderland, namely Pickrelweed (Pontederia cordata), Cat-tail (Typha sp.),
Alligator weed (Alternantheria philoxeroides), Swamp lily( Crinum americanum),
Duck potato (Saggitaria lancifolia), Lizard's tail (Saururus), and Cow
lily/spatterdock (Nuphar), I drifted into a cove where I thought I might find
I was not to be dissapointed. In the rear of the cove, rising as if on
magic wands waved from the muddy bowels of the lake, loomed a grove of
enormous yellow blooms. For anyone who has not witnessed this spectalur plant
in its natural state, which must be experienced and not merely seen, let me
The lotus plant is quite large. Stiff stalks stretch six feet from
fibrous roots anchored in sandy mud, to the center of enormous umbrella-like
leaves. The 12-18 inch-wide leaves do not have a cut, or notch, as do those of
the water lily. The six-inch wide flowers are luminescent yellow, with many
petals and stamens. Like roses, blooms range from just buds to the fully
opened stage. After a bloom falls, a green seed-pod containing 8-10 acorn-size
seeds remains standing above the water. These pods turn black at maturity, and
are valued as ornamentals called "chinquapins".
Excitedly noting that the water was only waist-deep, I jumped
over-board, fully clothed, and waded over to examine a plant in detail. The
roots seemed to be set in soil somewhat more sandy than the normal organic mud
of the lake's bottom. This probably contributed to the scarcity of lotus in
comparison to other species of aquatic plants (although I have observed huge
stands of lotus on Paynes Prairie at times).
The experience suddenly went from ethereal to ephemeral as my skin
began to itch and burn. "Gatorfleas," I thought. Surely, I must have gotten
into a nest of the dreaded gatorflea.
I ploughed back to the boat as fast as I could and clammered aboard.
Shucking my muddy shirt, I was quickly relieved to see no gatorfleas, for
their sting is brutal. However, my stomach and torso were covered with the
next worst things- leeches. As I pulled away a dozen of the slimy black
creatures, my body was left with open bleeding wounds. One gusher was coming
from my navel, and I could not seem to stop the bleeding. But I had
experienced leeches before, although not as extensively, so knew the bleeding
would soon wane.
As I returned back through Cross Creek, I thought of the leeches and
this experience of being "leeched". I wondered if perhaps these foul vampire
eels, these lizards from the River Styx, lured me with their "Loreli Rock" to
their feast? Well, the victory was still mine, for experiencing the beauty of
the lotus was worth every bite.
Ode to the Lotus Leech
Does not the Lotus deserve your care?
This lordly tribute to your lair.
It's "you" who sends it from the mud,
And "they" who spoil it must give their blood!
Without your version of the Sirens Rock,
Adorned in verdance and a golden frock,
Reaching skyward like a shrine surreal,
We wouldn't know you, vampire eel!
Through the woundings of your teeth,
Deep in my navel and just beneath,
Inject the poisons from your fetid bile,
Mucus and secretions just as vile.
I've stolen your treasure and now must pay,
With rivulets of scarlet in your evil way.
Gloat not, sly slugs of the River Styx,
For the Lotus Blossom is my fix!
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