The Black Lotus is one of Magic’s most iconic and recognizable game pieces. It is also Magic’s most expensive piece, with an example recently selling for $540,000!
This small cardboard rectangle is famous, and yet very few people have been lucky enough to see one in person, let alone own one. Over the years, however, Magic players have been able to get their hands on small pieces of Magic’s history through references to the iconic black-ish purple flower.
Black Lotus (1993)
Let’s start with the original. A classic. It doesn’t get much better than this.
It’s potent, it’s powerful, it’s banned in three formats and restricted in one. Over the years, Black Lotus has come to be as synonymous with Magic as Jace Beleren. But why the buzz? Well, it’s three free mana. Instant speed, whenever you want. It is ultimately iconic in every sense of the word. I used to think this card was overrated until I was able to play it on Arena during a special event. Only then was I able to truly understand how awesome this card is and why it earned its bannings.
While this card has had very few printings, it has a gorgeous assortment of art. From the austere yet evocative original of Christopher Rush to the oversized 2017 Vintage Championship art by Steven Belledin, the Black Lotus always features the same thing: a solitary lotus standing the test of time. The art is for the most part simple; even so, it remains iconic in its every iteration.
Lotus Petal (1997)
When flowers begin to wither and age, petals will start to fall.
Even time comes for the Black Lotus, but its petals aren’t worse, nor are they weak. Lotus Petal’s ability is a great callback to the original, giving you one mana as opposed to three like the original Black Lotus. It even has a price tag to match!
Lotus Petal is a strong combo piece in many Commander decks, too. In fact, according to EDHREC, there are over 15,000 combos that involve Lotus Petal. In fact, I used to run one such combo involving Emry, Lurker of the Loch and Mirran Spy. This nifty little combo allows you to make infinite mana! The possibilities are endless with this card, and it is quite literally just a fraction of the original.
Blacker Lotus (1998)
With the Black Lotus now cemented forever in Magic’s history, it only made sense for it to make an appearance in one of Magic’s most reference-filled series: the Un-sets. The first of two references comes in the form of Blacker Lotus.
Blacker Lotus’s art seeks to overshadow the original…literally. If you look in the foreground, you will see the original Black Lotus depicted. However, it is hard to pay attention to it as the Blacker Lotus encompasses the rest of the background, showing you just how ‘better’ it is than the original.
I have always had a soft spot for Un-sets. I’ve always enjoyed the subtle jokes, jabs, and references Wizards of the Coast (WotC) would make at their own expense. Blacker Lotus is one such fun twist on the iconic artifact. It flies in the face of its expensive predecessor. Rather than sacrificing the artifact, you instead have to rip the card into shreds in order to get that sweet, sweet four mana. What I truly love about this card is that WotC was able to get the original Black Lotus artist to illustrate the jokey version of the card as well. I truly adore it.
Lotus Blossom (1998)
Originally released in Urza’s Saga and recently reprinted in Dominaria Remastered, Lotus Blossom is next on our timeline.
I have never played this card before. In fact, I’ve often seen it referred to as one of the worst lotuses, however, I disagree completely. It is a very interesting peek into how WotC was able to continue the iconic reference in a new and refreshing way.
We had the actual Lotus, then the Petal, but now comes the lotus right before it has bloomed. It’s the blossom stage! I love this journey into design and how it relates to the life stages of a flower. The Blossom has yet to bloom, so you must wait for it by putting a petal counter on it. The more petal counters placed onto this artifact, the more mana you get out of it. What I really appreciate about the Blossom is how subdued the art is. Surrounded by lotuses mid-bloom, the blossom seems rather demure and shy. It has yet to flourish and develop its striking and beautiful colors. You must be patient for that part.
Gilded Lotus (2003)
It took five whole years for Magic to get another reference to the iconic artifact. Part of that was finding a direction to go. We’ve seen the flower in every single stage of its life, from Blossom to Lotus to Petal…so what next?
Gilded Lotus was the next step in the Lotus evolution. Instead of it being a temporary artifact, this piece became a full-fledged rock. Permanent and all. It does everything the Black Lotus does and sticks around. However, in order to not break formats, Design opted for a much higher mana value of five.
Since its original printing in Mirrodin, we have seen Gilded Lotus reprinted many times, even making an appearance in the Warhammer 40,000 precons. Regardless of its printing, each depiction of the Gilded Lotus features a gorgeous, golden lotus. Unlike the original, it is not fragile. There is beauty in its lifelessness and power still. I have also heard this Lotus called a ‘bad’ card, and I would have to disagree again. Just because it’s more than two mana does not mean it is a bad card.
Mox Lotus (2004)
What can I say about Mox Lotus?
It is the combination of Magic’s most iconic card and most iconic cycle: the Lotus and the Moxen. This is the second iteration of a Lotus in an Un-set, and I was rather sad that we did not get one in Unfinity. This Lotus is absolutely insane, which makes it perfect for a joke set. Rather than tapping for four mana, like its last Un-set iteration, it instead adds infinity colorless mana to your mana pool with the ability to sink 100 of that colorless mana into itself to get one mana of any color to your mana pool. Much like the Gilded Lotus before it, it is a permanent mana rock, meaning there is no need to sacrifice it to get that mana into your mana pool.
The foil version of the card (which I am absolutely desperate for) is almost $400. Even as a joke card, its namesake alone lends it a hefty price tag.
Lotus Bloom (2006)
In 2006, just a mere eight years after Lotus Blossom, WotC finally designed a card to represent the missing stage within the Black Lotus’s lifecycle.
We had the Blossom; now it’s time for the Lotus Bloom. I mean, it makes sense. It takes about two years for a lotus to grow from a seed. It can take even longer for a flower to bloom, though I do find it odd that the Blossom card came before the Bloom.
Despite this small thing, I find the Lotus Bloom to be an incredibly flavorful piece, though I have yet to play this one myself. Much like the Blossom, this iteration needs time. It has suspend 3, meaning you have to wait three turns before casting it.
Out of all the Lotuses, I do have to say that this is my least favorite, but that all comes down to play style preference. Despite this, I cannot deny the stunning art depicting the flower mid-bloom, its petals unfurled and colors flourishing. While the card may not be an all-star, I do adore its depiction.
Nyx Lotus (2020)
Imagine my surprise that it took fourteen years for another Lotus artifact reference to appear in Magic. I’d expected some within the mid 2010s. Even though it took over a decade, the wait was well worth it, as my favorite reference to the iconic card saw print: Nyx Lotus.
Much like Gilded Lotus, this iteration doesn’t require a sacrifice in order to generate the mana. In fact, this card also serves as a reference to Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, as it taps for mana equal to your devotion of a chosen color. It is a house of a card, serving those who play it extremely well, especially in mono-colored decks.
The Nyx Lotus depicts a singular purple-ish pink flower ablaze in a single pot amidst a gorgeous garden. I’m a sucker for pinks in Magic card. The utility of this card doesn’t hurt my love for it, either. The Nyx Lotus is a gorgeous marriage between two strong and iconic Magic cards that I absolutely adore.
Jeweled Lotus (2020)
2020 was the year of insanely powerful cards, iconic references, and jaw-dropping commander pieces. Jeweled Lotus combines them all.
Jeweled Lotus is probably the only card on this list that matches the sheer power of the original. Jeweled Lotus does everything that Black Lotus does. It has a mana value of 0, it needs to be sacrificed in order to generate mana, and it only generates mana of one color. However, the key difference is that the Jeweled Lotus mana can only be spent on casting your commander. Yup, that’s right: it’s a commander-specific Black Lotus.
It also nearly matches the price tag too…sorta. Artist proofs are definitely a unique way to collect iconic pieces of Magic history. You can get them blank, signed, or sketched. I own a few myself, but nothing compares to the artist proof of the foil, borderless Jeweled Lotus. This stunning piece is currently listed at $10,000. In fact, there is only one left (as foil proofs are limited to a run of 30).
Lotuses are known for being expensive to a certain extent due to their namesake, and with the sheer power and beauty of Jeweled Lotus, it is no wonder why this piece is listed for such a price. Alayna Danner is an incredibly skilled and talented artist and helped create a card that challenges the original Black Lotus in terms of its iconography. A Lotus made entirely out of diamonds is definitely hard to beat.
Timeless Lotus (2022)
Here we are. We’ve made it. We are at the most recent Lotus printed, and the twist on this one is incredibly fun.
Our final Lotus, Timeless Lotus, was printed in Dominaria United. Rather than tapping for just one color, it taps for all five. Like the Nyx Lotus, this piece enters the battlefield tapped, but the payoff is worth it.
The art is stunning, featuring a gorgeous opalescent Lotus sprouting through one of Urza’s fallen machinations. Out of all that pain and hardship, nature and beauty prevails. I feel that the name is a reference to the reference itself. The Lotus is an iconic and timeless Magic reference. It will never be overshadowed or forgotten.
Lotus to Love
I can’t deny feeling a sort of giddiness whenever I pull a Lotus card out of a booster pack. Whether it’s the Gilded Lotus from Secret Lair, the full art Lotus Blossom from Dominaria Remastered, or the shining opalescence of the Timeless Lotus, I am always in awe of how one single flower could impact a game 30 years later. While there are few of us lucky enough to own the original, we are able to have a piece of the magic that makes this game, well, Magic. Happy blooming, deckbuilders.