The botanical name comes from the Greek ninpha, species of aquatic deities, since the plant lives in the water like these mythological beings. In turn, the Castilian name derives from the Arabic nilufar, which comes from Persian and means ‘blue lotus’. Like the lotus, white lotus grows in ponds and slow flowing and shallow waters. It was used in al-Andalus to develop moisturizing oils and as an ornamental plant in the pools. Avempace, from al-Andalus, in the twelfth century, wrote a Treaty of the White Lotus collecting the peculiarities of this aquatic plant: the flowers open from 1-5 times on successive days, the first day opens an hour later and closes one hour before the remaining days. The flower opening last sinks in water.
The gardening of romantic connotations from the French School retake the white lotus as decoration in ponds, in remembrance and tribute to exotic cultures such as the one of the al-Andalus. The presence of French gardeners in Seville is linked to that of the Dukes of Montpensier in the city in the second half of the nineteenth century. Thus, in the garden of San Telmo of the Dukes, the French Lecolant designed a pool of aquatic plants, called the Lotus Pond. When these gardens lead to the Parque de María Luisa, the also French Forestier ordered a series of ponds decorated with tiles, taking back a Seville element of Muslim heritage. Some were covered of aquatic plants like white lotuses. Forestier was a friend of the painter Claude Monet, an admirer of the Impressionists and the garden the painter possessed in Giverny, which had a pond of white lotuses that Monet painted again and again. Forestier is inspired by Impressionism to create a garden where white lotuses are like strokes of multiple colors, untethered, floating in the water.