Euryale ferox (also known as fox nut, foxnut, makhana, or gorgon plant) is the only species in the genus Euryale. It is a flowering plant classified in the water lily family, Nymphaeaceae, although it is occasionally regarded as a distinct family Euryalaceae. Unlike other water lilies, the pollen grains of Euryale have three nuclei.
Euryale is an annual plant native to eastern Asia, and is found from India to Korea and Japan, as well as parts of eastern Russia. It grows in water, producing bright purple flowers. The leaves are large and round, often more than a meter (3 feet) across, with a a leaf stalk attached in the center of the lower surface. The underside of the leaf is purplish, while the upper surface is green. The leaves have a quilted texture, although the stems, flowers, and leaves which float on the surface are covered in sharp prickles. Other leaves are submerged.
The plant produces starchy white seeds, and the seeds are edible. The plant is cultivated for its seeds in lowland ponds in India, China, and Japan. The Chinese have cultivated the plant for over 3000 years. More than 96,000 hectares of Bihar, India, were set aside for cultivation of Euryale in 1990-1991. The plant does best in locations with hot, dry summers and cold winters. Seeds are collected in the late summer and early autumn, and may be eaten raw or cooked. In Chinese, the plant is called qiàn shí (simplified: 芡实; traditional: 芡實). Its edible seeds are used in traditional Chinese medicine, where they are often cooked in soups along with other ingredients, and believed to strengthen male potency and retard aging. In India, particularly in the northern and western parts of the country, Euryale ferox seeds are often roasted or fried, which causes them to pop like popcorn. These are then eaten, often with a sprinkling of oil and spices.
Victoria amazonica is a species of flowering plant, the largest of the Nymphaeaceae family of water lilies.
The species has very large leaves, up to 3 m in diameter, that float on the water's surface on a submerged stalk, 7–8 m in length. The species was once called Victoria regia after Queen Victoria, but the name was superseded. V. amazonica is native to the shallow waters of the Amazon River basin, such as oxbow lakes and bayous. It is depicted in the Guyanese coat of arms. The flowers are white the first night they are open and become pink the second night. They are up to 40 cm in diameter, and are pollinated by beetles.
Victoria regia, as it was named, was once the subject of rivalry between Victorian gardeners in England. Always on the look out for a spectacular new species with which to impress their peers, Victorian "Gardeners" such as the Duke of Devonshire, and the Duke of Northumberland started a well-mannered competition to become the first to cultivate and bring to flower this enormous lily. In the end, the two aforementioned Dukes became the first to achieve this, Joseph Paxton (for the Duke of Devonshire) being the first in November 1849 by replicating the lily's warm swampy habitat (not easy in winter in England with only coal-fired boilers for heating), and a "Mr Ivison" the second and more constantly successful (for Northumberland) at Syon House.
The Duke of Devonshire presented Queen Victoria with one of the first of these flowers, and named it in her honour. The lily, with ribbed undersurface and leaves veining "like transverse girders and supports", was Paxton's inspiration for The Crystal Palace, a building four times the size of St. Peter's in Rome
"We often ignore the beauty around us"