N. alba & N. tetragona N. alba & N. tetragona

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White Water-lily

Nymphaea alba

  • Name also: European White Waterlily, White Lotus, Nenuphar
  • Family: Water-lily Family – Nymphaeaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb. Strong-rooted aquatic plant with floating leaves.
  • Height: 0.5–2 m (1.5–6.5 ft.)
  • Flower: Regular, bowl shaped, 5–20 cm (2–8 in.) wide. Approx. 20 white or, rarely, red petals and 4 sepals. The receptacle tapers abruptly towards the flower stalk.The anthers are deep yellow. The pistil is of several fused carpels.
  • Leaves: The blade of the floating leaves is 10–25 cm (4–10 in.) long, roundish or oval and long-stalked. Dark green and glossy in colour above and reddish-brown below. The submerged leaves have short stalks and a smooth blade.
  • Fruit: Fleshy berry that resembles a capsule.
  • Habitats: On the soft bottoms of ponds, lakes and slow flowing rivers.
  • Flowering time: June-August.
  • Endangerment: The red-flowered variety of white water-lily is protected in Finland except the Åland Islands.

Water-lilies (Nymphaea spp. and Nuphar spp.) are among the most primitive dicotyledons. Features such as the spiral arrangement and large numbers of floral leaves are considered to be signs of this. On the other hand, the floating leaves represent a high level of specialisation.

Water-lily’s flower floats on the surface but after flowering the pedicel coils and drags the flower under water where the fruit develops. When the seeds are ripe and released they rice back to the surface. The seeds float with the help of an air-filled aril and are dispersed by waves and current. Eventually they sink and germinate in the bottom muds.

In Finland there are two Nymphaea species, white water-lily (N. alba) and smaller, Finnish water-lily (N. tetragona). White water-lily is divided into two subspecies (ssp. alba and ssp. candida).

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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