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Genus Nymphaea Family Nymphaeaceae

Description: Emergent aquatic perennials with tubers or rhizomes.

Leaves circular, floating (except in seedling), subpeltate or cordate, length of petiole dependent on water depth.

Flowers floating with flexuous pedicels or emergent on more rigid pedicels. Sepals usually 4, generally coloured. Petals numerous and characteristically coloured. Stamens either grading into the petals or clearly distinct from them; anther loculi either dorsally or laterally joined; anther appendages absent, present or falling early. Ovary globose, multilocular.

Fruit a berry enclosed by the perianth, drawn beneath the water surface by the spiralling pedicel. Seeds numerous, variously coloured and ornamented.


Photo © ANBG

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 60 species, cosmopolitan. Australia: c. 14 species (c. 12 species native), Qld, N.S.W., Vic., N.T., W.A., warmer regions.

Text by S. W. L. Jacobs (1990); edited KL Wilson (May 2011)
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Nymphaea alba,    Nymphaea mexicana

 Key to the species 
1Plants with horizontal rhizomes or stolons; leaf margins usually entire, sometimes shallowly and regularly sinuate; flowers yellow, white, pink, red or orange2
Plants with short vertical rhizomes only; leaf margins toothed or irregularly sinuate; flowers blue, white, or rarely blue-pink3
2Plant with horizontal rhizomes producing roots all along; flowers various colours, rarely yellow; leaves without brown markingsNymphaea alba and hybrids
Plants with vertical rhizomes and horizontal stolons, roots only produced from vertical rhizomes; flowers yellow; leaves often with brown markings
                       Back to 1
Nymphaea mexicana and hybrids
3Mature leaves toothed with acute, regularly-spaced teeth to c. 5 mm long; perianth segments obtuse, blue to white, fading with age; anthers without a terminal appendageNymphaea gigantea
Mature leaves irregularly sinuate; perianth segments acute, blue, white or blue-pink, not changing with age; anthers with an obvious appendage
                       Back to 1
Nymphaea capensis

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