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Fragrant Water-Lilly - Nymphaea ordorata
Family: Nymphaceae

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TPIUC

Description

Nymphaea odorata is an aquatic, perennial herb with spreading, horizontal rhizomes. Leaves are alternate and on long petioles that arise directly from the rhizome. The leaf blades float, are orbicular in shape, deeply cleft basally and often purple below. Leaf blades are palmately veined and have pointed basal lobes. Flowers float on or just above the water surface, are very showy, 6 to 20 cm broad, and are on long peduncles originating in the axils of the leaves. The flowers have 4 greenish sepals and 17 to 40 white, or rarely pinkish, petals. Following final closing of the flower, the flower stalk spirals, bringing the developing fruit to or near the substrate. The fruit has many seeds.

Fragrant water-lily can be distinguished from the yellow water-lily by its white, or rarely pinkish petals, and the absence of stolons. In contrast, the yellow water-lily has yellow petals and produces stolons.

Habitat/Growth Characteristics:

Fragrant water-lily grows in swamps, shallow ponds, lakes, ditches, and slow moving stream. Nymphaea odorata can reproduce from rhizomes and by seed (Tarver et al. 1986, Hanlon 1990) Once established, colonies spread by rhizome branching and may colonize large areas of shallow water bodies. After a few growing season the water surface may be covered by floating leaves and shade out other plants. Tarver et al. (1986) report white water-lily to grow at depths of 0.1 to 2.5 m deep. Nymphaea mexicana spreads by stolons which produce numerous, descending, curved, fleshy, overwintering roots resembling tiny bananas (Sutton 1984).

Problems:

Dense growth of fragrant water-lily in shallow water areas sometimes interferes with boating and recreation. It may also exclude reduce the diversity of a water body by shading out other plant species (Tarver et al. 1986).

Interesting facts

The genus Nymphaea L. consists of perhaps 40 or so species distributed primarily in the Northern Hemisphere. Many species are prized as ornamentals and have been introduced and become naturalized outside of their natural range. Wiersema (1997) lists nine species of Nymphaea as occurring in the Untied States. Seven of the nine species recognized by Wiersema (1997) have somewhat restricted ranges.

The most common and widespread water-lily in the United States is N. odorata Ait., fragrant water-lily or white water-lily. This species is native and consists of two subspecies, N. odorata subsp. odorata and subsp. tuberosa (Paine) Wiersema & Hellquist. The two subspecies are widespread in the eastern, central, and mid western United States. Subspecies odorata also has been introduced into several western and northwestern states (Weirsema 1997). The pictures used in this system are those of N. odorata subsp. odorata. Another native species of Nymphaea is the yellow water-lily, N. mexicana Zucc., which is most common in Florida but ranges west to Texas and Oklahoma and has been introduced in several other states (e.g., Arizona, California, North Carolina, South Carolina).


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Website, video, and graphics by Rob Nelson
For more information on this plant or management please contact US Army Corp of Engineers

 

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