If salt ocean is the Great Mother from whom all life has sprung, fresh water is the Nurse entrusted to nourish life within her wanderings and around her wave-lapped marginsHenry Williamson, The Gale of the World
Water is an essential element for sustaining life. It provides a habitat for a diverse array of organisms, both in freshwater and in the sea. Aquatic plants, in particular, exhibit a remarkable diversity of form. Some plants thrive underwater, their delicate fronds swaying gently with the currents, while others display their vibrant colours on the water’s surface.
This week Denzil asks us to share images of water plants for his Nature Photo challenge (prompted in part by yours truly!) I’ve chosen to focus on two very different types of water plant, both beautiful in their own unique way: water lilies in fresh water and seaweeds in salt.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us… and we drown.T. S. Eliot
I’m no expert on seaweeds so I’ve only identified a few of these but I think they make a colourful gallery whatever their name. I find it fascinating how these marine plants come in so many vibrant shades.
It took me time to understand my water lilies. I had planted them for the pleasure of it; I grew them without ever thinking of painting them.Claude Monet
I’ve bent my own definitions a little by including a few shots of lotus flowers among my waterlilies. You can identify these by the shape of the leaves. Water lily pads have a notch, while the lotus has a perfectly round lily pad. Water lilies also have leaves that float directly on the water, while lotus leaves hover above the water.
Both water lilies and lotus flowers hold a significant cultural symbolism in many parts of the world. They are often associated with purity, enlightenment and rebirth. The lotus in particular is used as a symbol of rebirth in both Hinduism and Buddhism. Unusually it manifests all its different stages of growth (bud, flower and seed pod) at the same time, echoing those religions’ beliefs in reincarnation.
My feature photo, like two of those below, was taken at Angkor Wat.