"Thousand Petals"

By Eiji Nitasaka, Japan

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This fully double flower of 'Jongkolnee' blooms in my green house. It seems less hardy and less free-flowering than ordinary tropical waterlilies. A Thai variety, 'Jongkolnee' reminds me of the "thousand petals lotus" of China, 'Qianbanlian'.

Though Chinese expression is sometimes inflated, this lotus has 3-4 thousands petals. It is very beautiful but only blooms a few times in one season and the heavy flowers need stakes. I think 'Qianbanlian' (Qian = thousand, ban = petals and lian means lotus in Chinese) is the only real thousand petals lotus.

Another double variation 'Chongtailian' (double stage) has around 200 petals but still this flower has reproductive organs. The flower of 'Qianbanlian', like that of 'Jongkolnee', has no reproductive organs, and all stamens and carpels are transformed into several thousands petals. There are many lotus names with "thousand" (in Chinese, Qian) but almost all have only 60-100 petals. 'Qianbaiwan' means (white) million petals and has only 60 petals!

In Japan, there is a very similar variety, 'Myoren' (Myo means strange, ren means lotus), with long historical records. I suppose this was introduced from China in relation with Buddhism, perhaps from the same strain as 'Qianbanlian'.

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