Nymphaea odorata Ait.

white water-lily

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

White water-lily is found in slightly acidic to basic water of lakes, slow-moving streams, and pools in all New England states. Though it normally has white petals, plants with pink petals are occasionally found. The leaves and roots were used by Native Americans for a variety of medical purposes.

Habitat

Lacustrine (in lakes or ponds), riverine (in rivers or streams)

Characteristics

Habitat
aquatic
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf position
  • some of the leaves are floating at the surface of the water
  • the leaves are all submerged underwater
Leaf arrangement
alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
Leaf blade length
50–400 mm
Petal or sepal number
there are seven or more petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
Petal color
  • pink
  • white
Specific leaf type
the leaf is not divided, rather the blade is made up of one segment
Floating leaf shape
  • the leaf blade is orbicular (roughly circular, as wide as long)
  • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is fleshy
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Turion length
    0 mm
  • Flowers
    Anther color
    there is a noticeable pink, reddish or purplish tint to the anthers
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused to one another
    Flower lower lip length
    0 mm
    Flower number
    1
    Flower position
    • the flowers are above the surface of the water
    • the flowers are floating on the surface of the water
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Inflorescence type
    the inflorescence has only one flower on it
    Inflorescence width
    60–190 mm
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of carpels
    10–25
    Ovary position
    the sepals and/or petals are attached below the ovary
    Palate on corolla
    no
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal color
    • pink
    • white
    Petal fringed edges
    the petals are not fringed
    Petal fusion
    the perianth parts are separate
    Petal hairs on inner/upper surface
    there are no hairs on the inner/upper petal surface
    Petal length
    30–100 mm
    Petal number
    14–43
    Petal or sepal number
    there are seven or more petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    Pistil number
    1
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals resemble leaves in color and texture
    Sepal length
    30–100 mm
    Sepal number
    4
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are separate from one another
    Spur length
    0 mm
    Stamen number
    13 or more
    Stamen position relative to petals
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Fruit beak length
    0 mm
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is fleshy
    Fruit type (specific)
    • the fruit is a berry (fleshy, with the wall enclosing one or more sections, with two or more seeds)
    • the fruit is a follicle (has one ovary that splits along one side to release the seeds)
  • Glands or sap
    Oil glands on nodes
    none of the nodes have oil glands
    Sap
    the sap is milky and opaque, and may be white or colored
  • Growth form
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Root septa
    the roots do not have transverse septa
    Roots floating in water
    there are no clusters of roots floating in the water
    Turions
    there are no turions on the plant
    Underground organs
    the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Bract position (Sparganium)
    NA
    Bract relative length
    At least 3854 mm
    Bracts
    neither the flowers nor their pedicels have bracts
    Floating leaf basal lobes
    yes
    Floating leaf blade width
    50–400 mm
    Floating leaf length
    50–400 mm
    Floating leaf shape
    • the leaf blade is orbicular (roughly circular, as wide as long)
    • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    Floating leaf tip
    the tip of the floating leaf blade is rounded, with no point
    Floral bract form
    NA
    Floral bract length
    0 mm
    Leaf arrangement
    alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Leaf blade length
    50–400 mm
    Leaf blade veins
    the lateral veins radiate from the base and continue to spread away from the centerline of the leaf, or branch off the central vein at intervals
    Leaf blade width
    50–400 mm
    Leaf position
    • some of the leaves are floating at the surface of the water
    • the leaves are all submerged underwater
    Leaf special features
    none of the mentioned special features are present
    Leaf-like branch segments
    0
    Leaf-like branch shape
    NA
    Specific leaf type
    the leaf is not divided, rather the blade is made up of one segment
    Staminate bract edge (Myriophyllum)
    NA
    Stipules
    the plant has stipules
    Trap-bladder length
    0 mm
    Underwater leaf blade edges
    the underwater leaf has smooth edges, without teeth
    Underwater leaf blade shape
    • the underwater leaf blade is orbicular (roughly circular, as wide as long)
    • the underwater leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    Underwater leaf stalk
    yes
    Underwater leaf tip shape
    the tip of the underwater leaf is rounded, with no point
    Veins in floating leaf
    6–27
  • Place
    Habitat
    aquatic
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • in lakes or ponds
    • in rivers or streams
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Flowering stem growth form
    the flowering stem is upright

Wetland Status

Occurs only in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: OBL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Connecticut
widespread (S-rank: S5)
Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

ssp. tuberosa

Connecticut
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Nelumbo lutea:
leaf blades circular and without a basal sinus and seeds visible, seated in pits within the fruit (vs. N. odorata, with leaf blade with an evident basal sinus and seeds concealed inside fruit).

Synonyms

  • Castalia odorata (Ait.) Wood
  • Nymphaea odorata var. gigantea Tricker
  • Nymphaea odorata var. rosea Pursh

Family

Nymphaeaceae

Genus

Nymphaea

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