Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Nymphaea odorata Soland. in Ait.
- Family: Water-lily (Nymphaeaceae)
- Flowering: June-September
- Field Marks: This attractive species has circular leaves that are cleft at the base and usually
purple on the back side. The fragrant flowers consist of 17 or more white petals.
- Habitat: Ponds, lakes, pools.
- Habit: Aquatic perennial herb from branched rhizomes.
- Stems: Only present as rhizomes.
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, floating or less commonly emersed, spherical but with a basal cleft, up to 2 feet in diameter, green and smooth on the upper surface, usually purple and finely hairy on the lower surface, with flat, smooth stalks.
- Flowers: Solitary, showy, white, fragrant, up to 8 inches across, on long stalks.
- Sepals: 4, green or purplish, free from each other, narrowly ovate, usually rounded at the tip, up to 4 inches long.
- Petals: Numerous, white, free from each other, the inner ones smaller than the outer ones.
- Stamens: Numerous, white, attached to the ovary.
- Pistils: Ovary superior, with a sessile, many-rayed stigma.
- Fruits: Berry spherical but usually depressed at the top, containing many seeds; seeds ellipsoid to oblongoid, up to 1/8 inch long.
- Notes: The thickened rhizomes are eaten by beavers, muskrats, and other wildlife. Flower color can be variable; local populations may have varying shades of pink as well as white.
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