The Turtle Lotus, or Dragon-eye, grows only in the sacred lakes and terraces of the Torrozzo Mountains, characterized by their enormous lily pad, often over two meters in diameter. Closely related to more common lotuses, the Turtle Lotus Its flowers are white, quickly darkening to a pale goldenrod at the tips. The flowers exhibit the classic Lotus shape: wide, ovoid, cupped petals arranged in two layers, a broad, bowl-like seedpod developing in the center. Much like their cousins, the Dragon-eye also has very water-repellent leaves, making their pads remarkably dry perches. On warm, spring and summer nights, they cast a silver-white luminescence, surrounding the lakes in a nimbus of breathtaking light. However, by mid-August, the last of the seed pods have fully formed, and the nightly radiance is absent save for a few dim petals still clinging to their stalks. Through the fall and winter, the plants enter their dormant stage, and all that remains above water is the pad.
The Dragon lotus is a pungent flower, combining a sickly-sweet mango scent with the sinus-burning spice of red-pepper. The heady smell is used as an endurance test for Monks meditating on the pads. While it emanates strongly from all parts of the flower, the smell is mostly strongly associated with the pollen, which is also incredibly sticky, washing off only with alcohol or vinegar. The monks also collect the pollen as a form of defense, packing it into blowpipes and using it against intruders.
The Turtle Lotus is a carnivorous plant, feeding on the fish that share their home. Connected to the floating root-ball are a number of transparent, bean-shaped hollows. During the process digesting prey, these semi-rigid growths become concave by secreting water through their membranes, helping to break up the prey by squeezing, and reset the trapping mechanism. At the end of the lotus' traps are long trigger hairs near a small opening, and when prey brush these trichomes, the pods snap into their convex shape, creating a partial vacuum and sucking the prey in. Clustered under the pad itself are a number of more rigid traps modified into ballast organs. Unlike the swimbladders of fish, which contain gas, these ballast organs create an internal vacuum to offset the weight of the plant and its prey. Rare mutations may cause some specimens to float to efficiently, sometimes hovering far enough above the lake to starve themselves.
Most unusual about the plant is the strength and stability of its pad. Held up by the plant's massive, buoyant root system, a typical Turtle Lotus pad is capable of easily supporting the weight of a fully grown human. Having long since cast its anchor roots upon reaching the surface, a mature Dragon Eye normally floats about aimlessly, but the Torrozzan monks are familiar enough with the plants' physiology to have identified a small, nerve-like cluster where the floating root ball connects with the pad. By manipulating this cluster, a monk can both steer the plant and control its speed, though this is beyond well beyond outsiders. Four paddle-like leaves on the underside of its pad supply locomotive power for the plant. Using these leaves it swims with a motion remarkably similar to a turtle, giving the lotus its name. Without human influence, swimming is a rare occurrence, usually restricted to a plant that is starving and looking for prey, or one that has drifted near shore (where food is scarce.)
Rare and unique, the lotus is a much-coveted plant. The Torrozzoan monks forbid taking the plant or seeds off the mountain, but a few enterprising thieves have managed to outwit them. However, the seeds require cold temperatures to remain viable and germinate, and even in optimum conditions will only do so for up to a year at most. Whole plants are somewhat more temperature tolerant, but removal from the water greatly stresses the Turtle Lotus, and will often kill the plant anyway. Despite this delicate nature, smuggled plants can be found in the gardens of Sarbythan Nobles rich enough to provide survivable conditions, and in the hideaways of the reclusive sorcerors and wise-men of Thule.
During the Age of Elves, the Lotus was far more common, and the Dragon-Eye is one of many Thinian plants the Elves took with them to the moon, where it is grown primarily in public gardens. The plant is also found growing in lakes and paddies near distilleries, where the sugar-rich seed pod is distilled, and flavored with the pollen. This drink is called Tsamno, a notoriously difficult drink, being both incredibly spicy and and notoriously high in alcohol content.
The monks eat all parts of the plant, excepting the pollen and swimbladder, as a part of their heavily-restricted diet. The seed pod is most favored because of its sweetness, and usually eaten raw. After being fertilized, The petals of the lotus begin to shed, these are either picked from the lake after falling, or immediately from the plant when fertilization becomes obvious. Turtle Lotus petals are dried and eaten raw, or candied with sugar extracted from the seed pod. The pad and swimming leaves can be eaten as salad greens or used as wraps for steaming. Their taste is similar to spinach, but slightly more bitter, with an almost metallic acidic undertaste. The roots are used in a manner similar to ginger, though it tastes remarkably similar to orange zest, and has a slight numbing effect on the tongue. The traps are not normally eaten, but Torrozzan Monks are particularly fond of a delicacy called Laurecci, a trap that contains partially digested prey.
Despite widespread knowledge of its existence, the Turtle Lotus is not well classified because of the monks' imposition on removal of the plant. It is one of the only living thing recognized as a fully distinct species but not classified with an official scientific name by the College at Leusois. Proposed names have come from both amateurs and scholars alike. With such disparate names as Nelumbo Sacrum, Ignei Testudo, and Pseudotestudines Lumens, it can be difficult to find those few preliminary studies that have been done. It is rumored that a closely related cousin exists somewhere in the Lost Lands of northern Rokir, but no exploratory crew has returned with a specimen yet.