(Nymphaea alba) A symbol of charity, according to the ideas of Raban Maur (Haig). There used to be an idea that waterlilies submerged themselves at night. See Tennyson, The Princess:
Now folds the lily all her sweetness up, And slips into the bosom of the lake.
Actually, they are careful to keep their leaves dry, by floating; water runs off the upper surface of the leaves (Young).
It was said once that if you fall while holding the flower in your hand, you would become epileptic (Grimm). The rhizome was used as an anti-aphrodisiac, to suppress sexual excitement, and the plant was nicknamed "destroyer of pleasure" because of its supposed power as a love-killer (Schauenberg & Paris). Gerard knew about this, and recommended the decoction, "or use the seed or root in pouder in his meats; for it drieth up the seed of generation, and so causeth a man to be chaste ...". There was a cosmetic use once - the dew gathered from the cups of these waterlilies was used in Hampshire to enhance the appearance of the eyes (Hampshire FWI).
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