The national flower of a country should tie in with the culture, history and heritage of a nation. It is meant to reinforce the country’s image to the world and play a part in upholding the qualities that the nation holds true. The national flower of India is Lotus. It is an aquatic herb that is often termed as ‘Padma’ in Sanskrit and enjoys a sacred status among the Indian culture. It has been an integral part of the Indian culture from time immemorial. A prominent feature of the Indian mythology, the lotus is one with the Indian identity and represents the core values of Indian psyche.
The Lotus symbolizes spirituality, fruitfulness, wealth, knowledge and illumination. The most important thing about lotus is that even after growing in murky water it is untouched by its impurity. On the other hand, the lotus symbolizes purity of heart and mind. The National Flower ‘Lotus’ or water lily is an aquatic plant of Nymphaea species with broad floating leaves and bright aromatic flowers that grow only in shallow waters. The leaves and flowers of the Lotus float and have long stems that contain air spaces in them. The lotus flowers have many petals overlapping in a proportional pattern. The root functions of lotus are carried out by rhizomes that fan out horizontally through the mud below the water. Lotuses, cherished for their tranquil beauty, are delightful to take a look at as their blossoms open on the pond’s surface.
They are used for conveying love, happiness, grief, mourning etc. In India, flowers are sanctified are commonly used in worship in homes and temples. Flowers are used on all festive occasions and in marriages and religious ceremonies.
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In all social functions, use of flowers and garlands has become symbolic. Annual, commonly, cultivated flowers are Carnation, Aster, Calendula, Petunia, Pansy, Nasturtium, Phlox, Zinnia, Marigold etc. Some other flowers usually grown in gardens are Antirrhinum, Chrysanthemum, Dahlia, Cosmos, Larkspur, Poppy, Stock, Sweet pea, Sweet William, Verbena. Common bulbous flowers are Narcissus, Iris, Spider lily, Nerine, Tulips etc.
Rose petals have been used in cooking and teas for centuries, as have day lilies, dandelions, carnations, clovers and daisies. Citrus and banana flowers can also be a food source. The blossoms from chives, garlic, basil, jasmine, lavender, oregano and sage can be used as herbs and spices in food dishes. Other flowers, such as mint, chamomile, ginger and Angelica, can be used in teas.
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Deer and rabbits are the biggest flower predators in the animal kingdom. Geraniums and pansies are the first to be eaten, as are flowering vegetables. Raccoons, skunks and groundhogs also nibble on flowers from time to time.
Many flowers have medicinal uses, such as begonia for eliminating toxins in the body, and calendula, sunflower and honeysuckle for treating sore throats and tonsillitis. Cornflower can be used to treat acne, while valerian and California poppy relieve menstrual cramps. Cats even use flowers to cause vomiting and thus eliminate stomach distress.