Water Lily, a flowering plant that grows in lakes, ponds, and slow-moving streams in temperate and tropical regions. There are more than 70 species and numerous varieties. Many are cultivated in water gardens and pools for their showy, fragrant flowers, and for their foliage.

Water lilyWater lily leaves and flowers float on the surface or grow upward into the air.

Water lilies are rooted to the bottom of the pond or stream in which they grow. Most species grow from fleshy rootstocks called rhizomes or from tuberous roots. Their leaves and flowers may float on the surface, or they may grow upward into the air. The roots and seeds of many species are used as food by humans.

The fragrant water lily grows from southern Canada to Mexico. It bears fragrant white, pink, or pink-tinged flowers up to six inches (15 cm) wide. The heart-shaped leaves are 3 to 10 inches (8 to 25 cm) wide. The leaves and flowers float on the surface.

The yellow pond lily, or spatterdock, is found from central Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The outer part of the flower consists of fleshy segments (sepals) forming a yellow cup two to four inches (5 to 10 cm) in diameter. Some of its large, heart-shaped leaves float on the surface, while others grow up into the air. The Indians ground the seeds for flour or roasted them like popcorn.

The American lotus, or water chinquapin, grows from southern Ontario to Florida. Its pale-yellow flowers are up to 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter. The almost circular leaves, one to two feet (30 to 60 cm) in diameter, grow in the air.

The Amazon (or Victoria) water lily of Brazil bears fragrant white, red, or pink flowers up to 18 inches (45 cm) wide. Its circular leaves, 3 to 12 feet (0.9 to 3.6 m) in diameter, have upturned margins. The Australian water lily produces purplish-blue flowers up to 12 inches (30 cm) wide.

Water Lillies in AutumnWater Lillies in Autumn

The fragrant water lily is Nymphaea odorata; the yellow pond lily, Nuphar advena; the American lotus, Nelumbo lutea; the Amazon water lily, Victoria amazonica; the Australian water lily, Nymphaea gigantea. The water lily family is Nymphaeaceae.