White water-lily (Nymphaea alba)

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White water lily flower, view from underwater
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White water-lily fact file

White water-lily description

KingdomPlantae
PhylumAnthophyta
ClassMagnoliopsida
OrderNymphaeales
FamilyNymphaeacea
GenusNymphaea (1)

The white water-lily produces Britain's largest flower (4). This plant roots in the mud at the bottom of the lake (5), the circular floating leaves are dark green on the upper surface, and reddish below (2). The flowers also float; the petals are white, often with a pinkish tinge, and the stamens are bright yellow (2). The seeds, which are produced in large quantities, are smooth and olive-green in colour (2).

Size
Leaf length: 10-30 cm (2)
Flower diameter: 10-20 cm (2)
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White water-lily biology

White water-lily flowers are produced between June and September (6); they are visited by bees, flies and beetles, but it seems that they are often self-pollinated(2). There is much variation in the size of both the leaves and the flowers; certain populations in nutrient-poor waters are much smaller than average (2). These differences seem to have some genetic basis, as even when moved to nutrient-rich waters the plants stay small for a number of years (2).

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White water-lily range

The native range of this attractive species is not clear, as it has been widely collected and transplanted (3). It is found throughout most of lowland Britain, but is absent from Orkney (2). Outside of the British Isles, it is found in Europe as far north as Scandinavia, but is absent from Iceland and the Faeroe Islands (2).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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White water-lily habitat

Found in a range of aquatic habitats, including ponds, large ditches, mires and the backwaters of rivers (3).

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White water-lily status

Common and widespread (3).

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White water-lily threats

This species is not currently threatened, but is likely to be vulnerable to disturbance by boat traffic as it lacks submerged leaves (3).

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White water-lily conservation

Conservation action has not been targeted at this common and widespread species.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Find out more

For more information on British plants and their conservation see Plantlife- the wild plant conservation charity:
http://www.plantlife.org.uk/
Visit the website of the Botanical Society of the British Isles at:
http://www.bsbi.org.uk

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk
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Glossary

Self-pollinated
Transfer of pollen within the same individual plant- either within the same flower, or between different flowers.
Stamen
The male reproductive organ of a flower, it is made up of an anther (the pollen-producing organ) and a filament (stalk). (See http://www.rbgkew.org.uk/ksheets/pdfs/flower.pdf for a fact sheet on flower structure).
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References

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (Feb 2003): http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
  2. Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. & Moore, D.M. (1987) Flora of the British Isles. 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  3. Preston, C.D., Pearman, D.A. & Dines, T.D. (2002) The New Atlas of the British and Irish Flora. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. BBC Nature. (Feb 2003): http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/plants/fun/record_breakers.shtml
  5. Flora of Northern Ireland (Feb 2003): http://www.habitas.org.uk/flora/info.htm
  6. Press, B. & Gibbons, B (1993) Photographic field guide to wild flowers of Britain and Europe. New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd, London.
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Image credit

White water lily flower, view from underwater  
White water lily flower, view from underwater

© Wild Wonders of Europe / Lundgren / naturepl.com

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