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Learn about White Lily

Botanical name: Nymphaea ampla
Other names: Apepe, lolha’ (Mayan ‘flower of the water’), sol de agua (‘sun of the water’)

This Central American species of white water lily is an aquatic perennial from the Mayan lowlands, and the elevated plateaus of Chiapas.  It may be easily confused with the European White Lily (Nymphaea alba) or the Egyptian White Lotus (Nymphaea lotus) – and has similar reported effects. As a smoking herb, these three lilies seem to be used interchangeably.

It is often depicted in Mesoamerican art – in images of Teotihuacan (the rain god), sprouting from the backs of crocodiles, entwined around the head of the ‘earth monster’ and adorning dancing jaguars. Many of these images seem to convey visionary scenes.  

As a tea, liqueur or smoke, White Lily is said to have sedating, dreamy and even psychoactive effects.

The flowers contain aporphine, a substance closely related to the opiate apomorphine. Aporphine has been described as a psychoactive alkaloid and is a dopamine agonist used to treat Parkinson’s disease, erectile dysfunction, Alzheimer’s, opiate and alcohol addiction as it stimulates dopamine receptors and improves motor function. This is the compound that stimulates a happy, uplifted, and euphoric feeling

One source reports that in Brazil, the flowers were used as a narcotic inebriant with opium-like effects.  There are also reports that in the 60s, ‘hippies’ discovered it in Chiapas and used it as a recreational drug. White Lily is thought to have been used as an additive in the Mayan balche’ drink – a ritual honey mead. It may still be used for ethnomedicinal purposes in the Yucatan peninsula today. 



Tea – Use 1 tsp per cup, steep 10 minutes, drink as desired.  

Liqueur – Soak 5-10 g in a bottle of vodka (or other spirits), macerate (let soak, shaking occasionally) for up to 2 weeks (but effects can be felt after even 1-2 days!)

Smoke – Smoke on its own or in a blend with other herbs.



Christian Råtsch (1998), The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants, pp.396-98.

White Lily Common Uses

White Lily Actions

White Lily Recipes

White Lily Precautions

Avoid if pregnant, breastfeeding or on anti-diabetic medication. When taken in large doses, it may cause nausea, mild jittery feelings, hot flashes and even hallucinations. 

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