water lilies meaning

Water Lily Flower Meaning and Symbolism in Different Cultures

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Most people will agree on something: water lilies are simply beautiful and special! They are beautiful because of the shape of the flower, its petals, and even their lily pads. And they are special because they can grow in dirty soil or mud. 

Continue reading and discover the many meanings that are associated with water lilies:

What Does the Name “Water Lily” Mean?

There are many types of water lilies and they all prefer to live in ponds, lakes, and or aquariums, and they have been the subject of many works of art throughout the world. 

water lily symbolism

In fact, the root word for this plant is Nymphea, and it can be translated as ‘’nymph’’, which is a Greek word that means a feminine soul that had lived in nature, and she was found in rivers, wells, and even lakes. 

Lastly, the history behind water lilies can be traced back to thousands of years and this is the reason why they are very important in many cultures around the world. 

There are several types of water lily flowers, including the Egyptian blue water lily plant, the papyrus flower, the Mexican water lily flower, the water lily jaguar flower,

These flowers hold deep symbolism, with the aquatic plants known as July birth flowers. But rest assured – you don’t have to be looking for an official birth flower in order to love everything this plant, with its delicate flowers and beautiful colors, has to offer.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the water lily flower meaning to fully understand these captivating flowers…

What is the Water Lily Flower Meaning?

light wiolet water lily

When it comes to flower meaning, these flowers have always been associated with Greek and Italian nymphs due to the location where they can be found. Therefore, they have also represented purity, innocence, and chastity.

Ancient Egypt prized the flowers for their deep flower meaning and symbolism as well. They are viewed to ward off dangerous water spirits and were grown often in upper Egypt as well as other parts of northern Africa.

Water lilies are a type of flower that can be found in water, therefore, they often have a symbolic meaning of essence and birth, which it also means, ultimately, the circle of life we all have. 

In Christianity, water lilies have a significant symbolism as well. Their interlocking petals represent unity, life energy, and spiritual enlightenment.

These flowers are loved by many because they can transform a simple pond and make it into a colorful and fragrant paradise where nature will start transforming and showing itself. 

Why Are Water Lilies So Special?

pink water lilies with pods

Water Lilies are so special is because of how and where they grow. Did you know that this flower can put itself down so it goes under the water and then transforms itself into a fruit while being submerged? 

Then, after the seeds develop and reach their size fully, they will float back to the up and will spread all over the pond. Eventually, they will form a new water lily.

So, not only do they transform themselves in order to become something better (such as a fruit), but they will also self-propagate and this way they will continue with their life cycles.

light purple water lily

They also have many benefits for the environment they live in. For example, they become a filter and end up purifying the water where they float. This will also help other aquatic plants that live nearby Water Lilies and will also help the fish that can be found in the ponds.

Another reason is that they are one of the oldest aquatic plants that have ever been found in the world as of today. There a Water Lily fossils that have been found and thoroughly studied, and scientists have discovered that they can date back over 60 million years, and this is an amazing fact.

Lastly, water lilies are something special because the fruit they produce can also be eaten. In many places such as India, children usually eat the stems and flowers of this plant as well. 

What Are the Botanical Meanings of the Water Lily Flower?

bamboo bridge over a lily pond

In many parts of the world, such as Nigeria and Ghana, Water Lilies are loved and respected for their medicinal properties, as they help people cooling, thus they are a great source of medicine to treat fevers and or skin conditions that can raise the body’s temperature. 

Also, in countries like Mexico, Nicaragua, and El Salvador, indigenous communities have revered Water Lilies and they thought they were a sacred symbol of the earth that was sent out by the gods and goddesses. 

Water lilies have, more specifically the ones with white petals, can also be used to reduce swelling of sensitive areas, such as the eyes and mouth. This can be used externally, and it also helps reduce sores, bruises, and any other type of inflammation a person can have.

giant water lily leaves

The roots have often been used to make teas and oils that can help coughs, mouth sores, and even blemishes.

However, two types of White Water Lilies are often confused, such as the Nymphaea odorata and the Nymphaea tuberosa. You have to be very cautious when dealing with the Nymphaea tuberosa, in fact, try to avoid them at all as they are poisonous.  

Cultural Significance of Water Lilies

white water lily

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptians regarded water lilies as a symbol for the unity their nation had. Also, they had a blue water lily that represented the Sun, and, as a consequence, they thought it was also a symbol of rebirth.

Therefore, the cycle of life was seen in water lilies and they even placed these flowers in their temples. 

Asian Countries

It can be argued that in the Asian continent water lilies have a different meaning and symbolism as they represent universality, which is seen as the plant produces fruits that will help feed all individuals.


Water lilies are now seen as ornamental plants, however, this wasn’t the case hundreds of years ago, as Mayans thought this plant was sacred. 

Water lilies are also used as a way to eradicate and or control erosion of the soils.

Is there a connection between water lilies and religions?

orange water lily with yellow pistils

Water lilies are sacred in many religions that have appeared all over the world. These are some examples of how they have regarded water lilies: 


Buddhist think water lilies and lotus represent enlightenment. They also think these flowers have many different meanings that all depend on the color of the flower.

For example, red lilies are a representation of passion and love, white Lilies connote peace and purity, and purple Lilies represent power. However, the water lily they respect the most is the pink lily, as it represents knowledge.

light blue water lily


In this religion, water lilies are often associated with the concept of resurrection. This is because this flower will often “die’’ during the night, and will ‘’resurrect’’ during the morning. 

Besides, water lilies are also considered as something pure because they grow in the mud, and it is free of toxic particles. 


Water lilies have been described in the Bible, and are associated with chastity and purity, thus they are nowadays seen in bridal bouquets as a representation of love.

What Do Water Lilies Reveal About Your Personality?

If you are attracted to water lilies then this can mean several things for you. From feeling that nothing is clear to feeling like you are growing, water lilies can often help you see and understand many aspects of your life. 

Water lilies also mean that you are very patient and that you have things under control. You can give water lily flowers to someone whose birthday falls in July as it is a July Birth Flower.

What Does a Water Lily Tattoo Mean?

Having a water lily tattoo can mean that you have patience and you love to be at peace with yourself. It also means that you are elegant, innocent, and you love being well, both internally and externally. Besides, it also represents your spiritual journey and your wishes in life. 

See more: Lotus flower meaning

When to Choose Water Lilies

Water lilies are one of the most beautiful flower in the world, not only because of their appearance but because of what they represent.

This is why many countries have chosen this flower as a national flower, and why many religions often consider water lilies as a symbolic representation of their beliefs.

In addition, water lilies are so different from one another. There are water lilies that only bloom at night, while many others only bloom during the day, there are types of water lilies that can only be found in certain areas, and many others are an endangered species in some places and this is truly magical!

Though water lilies aren’t typically given as cut flowers, their deep flower meaning can’t be overlooked. They represent the beauty of nature personified – and should be part of any aquatic garden.

For more magnificent flower types, check this page https://florgeous.com/types-of-flowers/

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