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Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains

Nymphaeaceae - The Water Lily Family


Aquatic perennials with large floating and often some emersed leaves; stem a thick, fleshy, submerged rhizome anchored in the substrate, the older portions decaying behind the growing apex. Leaves arranged in a close spiral on the rhizome, subpeltate, the blades large and leathery, oblong to oval or rotund in outline but with a sinus behind the petiole attachment to the blade; smaller, thin textured submersed leaves sometimes present, especially early in the growing season; petioles elongate, stout and tough. Flowers solitary on long peduncles, borne at or above the water surface, white or yellow, 4-20 cm across, perfect, regular, hypogynous to nearly epigynous; sepals 4-6, quite petaloid, green or greenish on the outside, white or yellow on the inside, when yellow usually reddish toward the base; petals numerous, either white, large and showy, or yellow, small and inconspicuous, spirally arranged, gradually passing into the stamens; stamens numerous, with flattened and often broadened filaments; carpels several to many, fused into a compound ovary, stigmas radiating from the center of the disklike summit of the ovary. Fruit fleshy and leathery, many-seeded, eventually breaking open under water.

Lead Characteristic Go To
1 Flowers yellow; leaf blades oblong to oval or subsagittate. Genus Nuphar
1 Flowers white; leaf blades rotund or nearly so. Genus Nymphaea


7. Nymphaeaceae, the Water Lily Family
1. Nuphar Small
1. Nuphar luteum (L.) Sibth. & Small -- Yellow water lily, spatterdock
2. Nymphaea L. -- Water Lily
1. Nymphaea odorata Ait. -- Fragrant white water lily
2. Nymphaea tuberosa Paine -- White water lily


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