Nelumbo nucifera is known by a number of common names, including Indian lotus, sacred lotus, bean of India, and sacred water-lily. Botanically, Nelumbo nucifera (Gaertn.) may also be referred to by its former names, Nelumbium speciosum (Wild.) or Nymphaea nelumbo. This plant is an aquatic perennial, but if its seeds are preserved under favorable circumstances, they may remain viable for many years.
In Ancient Egypt, Nelumbo nucifera was unknown, being introduced only at the time of the Persian invasions, late in ancient Egyptian history.The ancient Egyptians venerated the blue water-lily, Nymphaea caerulea, which was sometimes known as the "blue lotus" or "sacred lotus".
N. nucifera was native to a huge area from modern Vietnam to Afghanistan, being spread widely as an ornamental and food plant. In 1787 it was first brought into horticulture in Western Europe as a stove-house water-lily under the patronage of Joseph Banks and can be seen in botanical garden collections where heating is provided. Today it is rare or extinct in the wild in Africa but widely naturalized in southern Asia and Australia, where it is commonly cultivated in water gardens. It is the national flower of India and Vietnam. (en.wikipedia.org)