Interesting facts about water lilies

water lilies

Water lilies are freshwater plants.

There are about 70 species of water lilies.

They are native to the temperate and tropical parts of the world.

Water lilies are found in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

Although most water lily species prefer the still waters of ponds and lakes, some can be found growing in slow-flowing rivers and creeks.


Most species of water lilies have rounded, variously notched, waxy-coated leaves on long stalks that contain many air spaces and float in quiet freshwater habitats. The stalks arise from thick, fleshy, creeping underwater stems that are buried in the mud.

The showy, fragrant, solitary flowers are borne at or above the water surface on long stalks that are attached to the underground stems. Each cuplike flower has a spiral arrangement of its numerous petals. Some flowers open only in the morning or in the evening to attract insect pollinators.

water lily flower

The fruit is usually nutlike or berrylike. Some fruits ripen underwater until they rupture or decay, and the seeds then float away or sink.

Native to shallow freshwater lakes and bayous in the Amazon basin, the world’s largest water lily is Victoria amazonica [photo below], whose gigantic floating leaves measure up to 3 m (10 ft) across, and are held in place upon an underwater stalk from 7 to 8 m (23 to 26 ft) long. The undersurface of its leaves are supported by a sturdy series of rib-like crossridges to keep the leaves flat and also prevent them from collapsing. Indeed, it is the pattern of these ribs that is said to have inspired the network of metal girders around which the Crystal Palace was built for the Great Exhibition in London, UK, of 1851.

victoria amazonica

The smallest documented species of water lily is Nymphaea thermarum [photo below], also known as the thermal lily has pads 10-20 mm (0.3-0.6 in) across. The thermal lily is now believed to be extinct in the wild. Its only natural habitiat was a single thermal pool in Mashyuxa, Rwanda and a change in conditions due to agricultural use is thought to have changed conditions in the pool such that the pool became uninhabitable for the plant. However, hotriculturalist Carlos Magdalena (Spain) was able to save the lily from extinction by successfully germinating stored seeds at Kew Gardens, London, UK in November 2009.

thermal lily

These plants are very popular in part due to their pleasing looks and fragrant scent.

They can also provide habitat and food for fish and wildlife. These qualities make water lilies popular plants for use in aquatic gardening.

Water lilies are a well studied plants, because their large flowers with multiple unspecialized parts were initially considered to represent the floral pattern of the earliest flowering plants.


On 3 May 2002, scientists announced the discovery of the fossilised remains of the earliest flowering plant discovered to date. At least 125 million years old, and named Archaefructus sinensis (ancient fruit from China), it was found in a slab of stone in northeast China and is possibly the ancestor of all the flowering plants in the world today. Its closest living relative may be the water lilly, as the ancient plant lived in clear shallow water, with its flowers and seeds extending above the surface.

Water Lilies is a series of approximately 250 oil paintings by French Impressionist Claude Monet (1840–1926). The paintings depict his flower garden at his home in Giverny, and were the main focus of his artistic production during the last thirty years of his life. Many of the works were painted while Monet suffered from cataracts.

water lilies claude monet

The white water lily is the national flower of Bangladesh and state flower for Andhra Pradesh, India.

The blue waterlily is the national flower of Sri Lanka.

The seal of Bangladesh contains a lily floating on water.

Water lily is also the birth flower for Pisces.