Sunday, 30 January 2011

As Promised...More Nymphaea

As I promised in my previous posting, I want to spend some time in this post showing you more of the genus, Nymphaea (Water Lilies).

Nymphaea is a genus of aquatic plants in the family of Nymphaeaceae.  There are about 50 species in the genus which is found in many parts of the world.  The common name, shared with some other genera in the same family, is Water Lily.  The name Nymphaea comes from the Greek word for "nymph".  The nymphs in Greek mythology were supernatural feminine beings associated with springs so the application of the name makes sense.

Despite their name, water lilies are not related to the true lilies (family Liliaceae).  Nor are water lilies related to the Lotus (family Nelumbo) even though people often refer to the Lotus plants as water lilies.  Is that confusing enough?

The water lily shown above is actually Nymphaea pubescens and is commonly known as the Pink Water-Lily or the Hairy Water-Lily (kind of like a nymph who forgot to shave her legs! -- sorry, I say these things sometime without thinking).  Anyway, this plant is commonly found in shallow lakes and ponds throughout temperate and tropical Asia as well as Australia.  It has also been commercialized as an aquarium plant as the underwater leaves have a handsome appearance.  The flowers are quite large when fully open.  They tend to close during the daytime and open wide at night!

By the way, it is the leaves of this plant that have fuzzy or "hairy" undersides, hence the name pubescens (hairy).  This, however, is not a characteristic that is apparent when looking at the plant from above the water.

As is usual these days, I could not resist playing with the pixel software as it does such interesting things to my drawings of flowers.

This variation is called "Hue Correction".  I like the bright yellow combined with the dark blue-green of the leaves.

This variation is called "Colour Inversion" which changes the pink flower to the green of the leaves and the green leaves to a faint pink shade.  It is rather like looking at a colour negative of a pink flower!

Next I want to talk a bit about the flower that I used at the beginning of the previous posting.  You may recall that I said I did not like to start a post off with text and so I pasted a flower drawing in with the promise to speak further about the flower in the next posting.  This then is the keeping of that promise.

So, here, once again, you see the drawing of Nymphaea caerulea, commonly known as a Blue Lotus -- it is, of course, not a Lotus at all but another type of water lily!  This is why it is so fortunate that botanists have given all these plants a proper Latin/Greek name so that they, at least, know which plant is what.

Studies show that Nymphaea caerulea flower buds rise to the surface over a period of two to three days, and, when ready, open at approximately 9 a.m. and close about 3 p.m.  The flowers and buds do not rise above the water in the morning nor do they submerge at night.

Nymphaea caerulea or Sacred Blue Lotus should not be confused with the Sacred Lotus, Nelumbo nucifera, as they can both be known by the same name.  Recent studies have shown Nymphaea caerulea to have psychoactive properties and may have been used in worship rituals in ancient Egypt and ancient South American cultures.  These narcotic properties are another trait which Nymphaea caerulea shares with Nelumbo nucifera.

By the way, "caerulea" is related to the English word "cerulean" -- meaning deep blue.  One of my favourite colours of oil paint is known as Cerulean Blue.  This colour, when mixed with other colours, can give you some of the most beautiful shades of blue imaginable.
And, as usual, I had to play around with the image using my "pixel" software.

This version is the "Hue Correction" choice that I used on the Pink Water-Lily.  So, while the pink flower turned to bright yellow, the blue flower turns to dark pink.

This choice is called "Solarization" which keeps the original colours but makes them look as if they have gotten too much sunshine!  I think this is the least interesting of all the variations.
Now for something completely different!

Only a few of you know of my delight in the game of Venery!  For those of you familiar with this word, it is the naming part of this definition that I am referring to!

The reason I make a point of saying which part of the definition I am referring to is that "venery" means the act, art, practice of hunting combined with the naming of the animals hunted OR the pursuit of sexual pleasure or the indulgence of sexual desire!

The term "venery" was first used during the 14th Century and came, over time, to refer to the naming of groups of animals to be hunted.  Any well educated male was expected to be able to properly refer to any group of animals.  Thus the young gentlemen would know that it is correct to say a "covey of partridge" while a group of turkeys would be a "rafter of turkeys".  A gathering of crows would properly be called a "murder of crows".

Over time, many of these terms came to be a normal part of the language such as a "school of fish" while others have faded from use.  In more recent times, however, the practice has become something of a game with those who are interested coming up with names for groups of modern things, not just animals.  For example, you have a "sleaze of tabloids", a "feeding frenzy of paparazzi" and a "hype of press agents" -- to name a few from the world of journalism.  Then you have such whimsical items as a "promise of tomorrows". 

I first became interested in all of this upon reading the original version of James Lipton's well-known book "An Exaltation of Larks".  Since then, although I am not very good at it, I have enjoyed trying to come up with a few expressions of my own.  Today, however, I just want to show you a few photos using the names provided by the "game" of Venery.

Here we have a "clowder of cats" -- the proper term for a group of adult cats.

Here then is a "kindle of kittens" -- an a very cute "kindle" I must say!

A group of adult dogs is properly known as a "kennel of dogs" -- although there may be a different term for describing a kennel of dogs in the water bringing home the ball which has been thrown for them!

And, finally, we have a "litter of puppies" -- the correct name for a group of puppies but not for a group of kittens which, as you now know, are properly called a "kindle"!
Although this post is dated Sunday, the 30th, it is really being completed early on Monday morning.  I ended up making such a long-winded posting that I ran out of time last night.  I do hope there will be some things in all this wordiness that you will find of interest.

I am doing as well as usual as is Suki (she is presently asleep in her "hidden" bed in the bedroom closet.  She has fixed for herself a very comfy nest on top of a box of my old stuffed animals (including my teddy bear which is now 66 years old!).  I placed an old, thick sweater on top of these and she finds it quite comfortable.  She may really appreciate her "nest" should we get the snow storm that is predicted for Wednesday -- heavy snow, blowing winds and extremely cold temperatures.  Yikes!  I definitely plan to stay at home on Wednesday.  All those who must get out and try to get to work have my sympathies.
Peace be with you all and may God protect you from deep snow and blowing winds!

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