Lotus leaf

Lotus flower and leaf
Image: Edupic.net

The Lotus plant (Nelumbo nucifera) is revered by Buddhists for its purity, at least in part because it stays clean even though it lives in muddy water. The plant uses a superhydrophobic surface to ensure that droplets of water roll off its leaves and carry with them particles from the dirty water. The waxy, bumpy surface can be seen using a scanning electron microscope (click here to view). This enables the leaves to float and to photosynthesise.

Water droplet at centre of lotus leaf

The Lotus is one of the more spectacular plants and superhydrophobicity with self-cleaning is also called the Lotus-Effect® (trademark).


The purity of sacred lotus or escape from contamination in biological surfaces W. Barthlott and C. Neinhuis, Planta 202 (1997) 1–8.