A Detailed Guide on Water Lilies: Nymphaea

A Detailed Guide on Water Lilies: Nymphaea

Water lily is from the family Nymphaeaceae. This beautiful family has more than 58 species of flowering plants. They are native to temperate and tropical parts of the world. They are popular around the globe. The plant is called the Nymphaea odorata scientifically. They provide food for fish and wildlife too. They grow quite quickly, and this can sometimes result in drainage problems. Because of its stunning display, the plant is used for ornamental purposes as well. They are used in garden pools and conservatories. Some of the closely related genera from the same family are fanworts and water shields. 

Variously notched flowers

The flowers are rounded and are variously notched. The waxy coated leaves of the long stalks of this flowering plant contain airy spaces and they float in quiet freshwater habitats. The stalks of the water lily flower generally arise from thick, fleshy, and the creeping underwater stems - they are generally buried in mud. The fragrance of the water lily is very attractive. The solitary flowers are borne above the water surface with the stalks, the stalks are further attached to the underground stems of the plant. The flowers are cupcake-structured and there are numerous spiral arrangements on the petals. The hydromorphic leaves are quite thin, there are vascular tissues that are generally scant. The surrounding water is responsible for the mechanical support of the plant. 

Some flowers don’t open themselves throughout the day. Some open in the morning, while some open only in the evening. The flowers can attract lots of insect pollinators. They also bore fruits that are nutlike and berrylike. The fruits ripen underwater and they rupture and decay quite fast. The seeds do float away and sink quite quickly. Sometimes, some of the species also have submerged leaves. The water lily plants are from the perennial group of the family. 

Bluewater lily | Nymphaea stellata 

Popularly known as Egyptian Lotus

The botanical name being Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea, the plant is also known as the Egyptian lotus, cape water lily, sacred blue lily. These are mainly found in freshwater lakes, pools, and rivers. In the eastern half of Africa and some parts of southern Arabia, they grow naturally. They are used for ornamental purposes. The blue water lily also has significance in the Ancient Egyptian civilization. They can thrive in anoxic muds in nutritionally poor conditions too. A species of snail is one of the main hosts for the plant and it can cause human schistosomiasis

The underwater rhizomes are often consumed and are edible. Small tubers often develop into short vertical rhizomes. This perennial plant can spread up to an area of 1 meter. The leaves have long petioles and the leaf blades are about 8 to 35 cm long. the leaves are polymorphic, that they change in form and texture depending on the fact that they are floating or are underwater. 

Giant water lily

Popular in the Amazon river basin

This is the biggest water lily in the family. The flower is native to Guyana and South America. The Victoria amazonica or the giant water lily is known for its large leaves which can grow up to 3 meters. The leaves float on the water surface. The largest water lily is quite popular in the Amazon river basin like the oxbow lakes and bayous and is also known as the amazon water lily.  The flowers open themselves when the sun starts to set. It can take about 48 hours to fully open. The flowers can be as big as 40 cm in diameter. The plants produce flowers for the full growing season. 

All the buds in the flowers begin opening at the same time and leaves a fruity smell. The flower petals are white, and they attract beetles. The flower closes by nightfall and as soon as they close down, the fragrance also stops spreading. The stamens of the flowers are protected by paracarpels and remain closed until the next day.

Nymphaea lotus 

Persists through the dry season too

They are also known by the names of Egyptian lotus, Tiger lotus, and white lotus. They generally grow in parts of East Africa, Southeast Asia. The species of this water lily has lily pads that help them float on water. This also helps the blossoms rise above the water body. They prefer clear, warm, and slightly acidic water. They are generally found with the aquatic plant species – Utricularia Stellaris. They can persist through the dry seasons as well. They stay with rhizomes in such situations. They can reduce evaporation by up to 18 per cent. They are also used as freshwater aquarium plants. 

White water lily

Needs around 30 to 150 cm deep water to grow

Popularly referred to as the Nymphaea alba, the white water lily is native to North Africa, Asia, and Europe. The water needs to be around 30 to 150 cm deep for them to grow. The leaves of this plant can grow up to 30 cm in diameter and spreads up to 150 cm per plant. As the name suggests, the flowers are purely white and have numerous small stamens inside them. They contain active alkaloids and are sedative. The roots and stalks of this plant are also used in many traditional herbal medicines. Alcohol is often extracted from the alkaloids of this plant. 

Pink water lily 

National flower of Bangladesh

There are numerous nymphaea colours, like this beautiful pink water lily. The botanical name of this flower is Nymphaea pubescens. They are also known as the hairy water lily. They are mostly found in shallow lakes and ponds. They are spread all over temperate and tropical Asia, mostly in  - Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Phillippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. They are also the national flower of Bangladesh. They prefer non-acidic water to grow. The leaf blades of this plant are round and have erect perennial rhizomes. 

Yellow water lily

Used in medicinal practices

The yellow water lily or the Nuphar lutea is also known by the name of brandy bottle, spaddercock. They are native to temperate and the tropical parts of Europe, northwest Africa, and Western Asia. The interesting species are found on both sides of the Atlantic ocean, they were used as food sources and also used in medicinal practices. They grow in shallow lakes, ponds, swamps, canals, ditches, and even in the tidal reaches of the freshwater streams. They aren’t tolerant of water pollution. The leaves float on the water while the roots are in the sediment. They can grow about 5 meters deep inside the water. 

Redwater lily 

Leaves are sharply toothed

They are native to India. The botanical name of this plant is Nymphaea ruba. They are widely cultivated across other countries too. They are red and sometimes rose-coloured. The sepals of the plant are usually 4 with many petals. The leaves are sharply-toothed and are around. They are downy on the underside. The lobes diverge away from each other with about 10-20 rays in the stigma. 

Purple water lily

Produces the most number of flowers among the variants

Known as the Nymphaea purpurea, they are known as the number one performing water lily. This gives the maximum number of flowers among the other water lilies. The flowers are yellow-centred, and as the name suggests, they are covered in the beautiful purple shade. The leaves are light green, and they don’t let even a drop of water stay on them. They can be grown in pools or tubs. 

Wanvisa water lily 

Comes in pink salmon colour

The wanvisa water lily is one of the most beautiful water lilies with its pink-salmon colour. There are also yellow and ivory speckles on the petals. Observe it closely and you will also find the shades of orange, peach, and deep pink. They occasionally produce flowers. 

Nymphaea Mexicana 

Has noxious weed features

They are popularly known as the Mexican waterlily and the banana waterlily. They are popular for their noxious weed characteristics. They can invade aquatic ecosystems when introduced. They have thick rhizomes and have long and pongy creeping stolons. The stolons bear bunches of yellow roots which resemble the shape of a banana. 

Night-blooming water lily

Leaves are dark bronze

The Antares night blooming water lily is famous for its beautiful rosy-red colour. The flowers can grow up to 6 to 8 inches long. they have a cup-like shape. The leaves are usually dark-bronze. They open before dusk and stays open until the morning hours. 


How to grow water lilies in a pond?

At first, select a container, and add some heavy bagged soil to it. Clean up the plants and put them in. add some tubers and lower the plant in the water body. 

What are the characteristics of water lilies? What is special about water lily?

Water lilies are recognized by their large and floating circular leaves. They do have large flowers (different colours for different flowers). The underside of the leaves is green. They float placidly on the surface of the water. 

Is Water Lily the same as Lotus? 

No. water lilies leaves and flowers both floats on the water’s surface while the leaves and flowers of lotus rise above the water surface. 

Is water lily good for home? What do water lilies symbolize?

They are the symbol of purity. They can bring great beauty and fortune to lives. So they are good for home.

What type of plant is Nymphaea? 

They are perennial plants. 

Where is Nymphaea native to? 

They are native to North America. 

Is white water lily rare? 

No, they are not rare species from the family. 

How to grow water lilies in a bowl?

 At first, select a container, and add some heavy bagged soil to it. Clean up the plants and put them in. add some tubers. 

How to grow water lilies without soil? 

Don’t plant them in a moving water system. Don’t plant more than 1 meter of water. Grow them about 45 to 6 cm of water above the surface. 

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