White Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata)

White Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata)

Bloom time: June – September

Additional photos:

General: A freshwater perennial herb with large, round leaves and showy, fragrant blossoms.

Leaves & Twigs:

  • The round, floating leaves are 5-22 cm in diameter, and usually purple underneath.
  • In spring, new shoots appear from the roots and grow up through the water until they reach the surface.

Flowers & Fruits

  • The white flowers (7-12 cm in diameter) have many petals surrounding the reproductive parts. The blossoms open in the morning and close in the early afternoon; they may also close on cloudy days.
  • Each blossom lasts two-to-five days. When the flowers close on the last day, the stalk ‘corkscrews,’ drawing the developing fruit below the water.

Habitat: Water lilies prefer quiet waters such as ponds, lake margins and slow streams. They root in the mucky bottoms, and grow upwards 2-2.5 m to the surface of the water.

PlantWatch Pointers: Select a patch of plants with at least 10-to-20 leaves that you can monitor each year.

To Observe:

  • First bloom: when the first flower is open in the observed plants.
  • Mid bloom: when five of the flowers are open in the observed plants.

Distribution Map:

Distribution Map

This species is monitored in:

  • Ontario
  • Quebec

White water lily leaves are designed to float. Try as you might, you can’t sink them by pushing them under the water surface.