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Family: Nymphaeaceae

Scientific name: Nymphaea nouchali

Authority: Burm.f.. 

Synonyms: Nymphaea cyanea Roxb., Nymphaea malabarica Poir., Nymphaea minima F. M. Bailey, Nymphaea punctata Edgew, Nymphaea stellata Willd., Nymphaea versicolor Sims

Zulu names: amazibu, izeleba, izibu

Other names: blue lotus, blue lotus of the Nile, water lily, blue water lily (English) blouwaterlelie, kaaimanblom (Afrikaans)

Plant description: N. nouchali is a perennial aquatic herb. It has long and wide floating round leaves, solitary blue flowers, globose fruits containing flask-shaped seeds, reddish violet stem, and white pithy roots. In South Africa, the herb occurs in waterbodies in the highveld, lowveld and KwaZulu Natal.


  • The flowers are used by South African diviners as a psychoactive agent for divinatory purposes.
  • The flowers are used to make a tincture that is taken in low doses as a euphoriant. 
  • The flower tincture is taken for sexual stimulation, to treat male impotence.
  • The flower tincture is an aphrodisiac.
  • The plant is used to reduce stress, anxiety, and regenerate the nervous system.
  • The plant is used to make a bitter tonic that is used for the following:
    • Treat menorrhagia and menstruation problems.
    • The flowers and seeds are used to treat liver (hepatic) disorders, such as diabetes mellitus.
    • The flowers and seeds are used to treat cough, fever and skin conditions, such as eczema.
    • Treat blennorrhagia or gonorrhoea.
    • Treat urinary tract disorders, such as dysuria.
    • Treat inflammation, such as swelling.
    • Treat eye problems.
  • The flowers are used to treat brain inflammation and dizziness.
  • The flowers are used as a cardiac stimulant to treat heart palpitations.
  • The roots are seeds are used to treat stomach ache and to promote appetite.
  • The roots are used to treat abdominal and back pain.
  • The roots are used as astringent, diuretic, and emollient. 
  • The plant is cultivated as an ornamental plant.

Safety precaution:

Using traditional medicine responsibly can enhance your overall health and well-being. Misuse and abuse can lead to complications. You can inquire about the correct use of traditional medicine from a knowledgeable herbalist and practitioner. You can also visit or email: to learn more about traditional medicine

References and further reading: 

  • Kiranmai, B., Sandhyarani, M. and Tiwari, A.K., 2023. Water Lily (Nymphaea nouchali Burm. f): An Ancient Treasure of Food and Medicine. Pharmacognosy Research, 15(2).
  • Raja, M.M.M., Sethiya, N.K. and Mishra, S.H., 2010. A comprehensive review on Nymphaea stellata: A traditionally used bitter. Journal of advanced pharmaceutical technology & research, 1(3), p.311.
  • Sobiecki, J.F., 2002. A preliminary inventory of plants used for psychoactive purposes in southern African healing traditions. Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa.
  • Stafford, G.I., 2009. Southern African plants used to treat central nervous system related disorders (Doctoral dissertation).
  • Van Wyk, B.E. and Gericke, N., 2000. People’s plants. Briza Publications, Pretoria, A guide to useful plants of southern Africa.
  • Viljoen,  C. and  Notten,  A., 2002. Nymphaea  nouchali  Burm.  f.  var. caerulea   (Sav.)   Verdc.   Cape   Town,   Kirstenboch   National Botanical Gardens. Available at : (accessed  18 August 2023).
  • Wagner, H. and Bladt, S., 1996. Plant drug analysis: a thin layer chromatography atlas. Springer Science & Business Media.
  • Watt. J.M. and Breyer-Brandwijk. M.G. 1962. The medicinal and poisonous plants of Southern and Eastern Africa. E. & S. Living-stone Ltd., London.

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