Nil Manel: The imposter still reigns

The ‘great pretender’ still rules. Even though this matter of national importance hit the headlines on November 7, last year, the National Flower imposter has not been ousted.

Although proudly declared as the National Flower since 1986, the Sunday Times highlighted in-depth research by Prof. Deepthi Yakandawala, Professor in Botany, Department of Botany, Peradeniya Faculty of Science which clearly indicates that the picture being propagated as that of Nil Manel is incorrect.

The beautiful Nil Manel. Courtesy Prof. Deepthi

However, there has been a deafening silence on the part of the authorities on this national faux pas.

As recently as last week, regrettably full-page advertisements spelling out the vision of the highest in the land, President Mahinda Rajapaksa depicted the picture of the imposter.

This is after the Sunday Times declared loud and clear, in an article illustrated with the right heir and the pretender side by side, that the nation had got it all wrong with regard to the picture of the National Flower in the government’s official website, the stamp issued to commemorate it, the school textbooks, posters in Sri Lankan missions abroad, the worldwide web and many books on the flowers of Sri Lanka.

“The official picture of the National Flower Nil Manel or Blue Water Lily (Nymphaea nouchali Burm. f) is wrong,” disclosed Prof. Deepthi who carried out the research with husband Dr. Kapila Yakandawala of the Wayamba University. Technical Assistant Indika Peabotuwage assisted them.

The imposter may be Nymphaea capensis, Nymphaea caerulea or even a hybrid with Nymphaea micrantha, according to Prof. Deepthi. The Nil Manel is a “native” of Sri Lanka but the imposter is neither endemic nor native and may have been introduced to the country long ago. It is also more widely spread than the Nil Manel, the Sunday Times understands.

According to Prof. Deepthi the Nil Manel is pale blue and has fewer petals, stamens, stigmatic heads, carpals while the imposter is more purple than blue.

Prof. Deepthi’s urging that the answer is to retain the Nil Manel and change the picture, which she favours because it is a native, or change the name of the National Flower and keep the picture intact has fallen on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times’ attempts to once again track down which government authority is responsible for the National Flower were futile. Efforts to contact officials of the Ministry of Public Administration after some claimed the National Flower came under their purview were also not

One of the advertisements depicting the ‘imposter’
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