Victoria Water Lily/ Giant Water Platter
Location: Chicago Botanic Garden – Heritage Garden
Victoria is a genus of water-lilies, in the plant family Nymphaeaceae, with very large green leaves that lie flat on the water’s surface
Water lily [family Nymphaeaceae] are freshwater plants native to the temperate and tropical parts of the world. Water lily has 8 genera and 70 species. The genus Nymphaea contains about 35 species in the Northern Hemisphere. The genus Victoria contains two species of giant water lilies endemic to South America. The leaves are round, with a notch in Nymphaea and Nuphar, but fully circular in Victoria.
Genus Victoria is the largest water lilies.
It comprises of two species of giant water lilies:
V. amazonica [formerly V. regia] and V. cruziana [Santa Cruz water lily].
Victoria amazonica: is native to the Amazon River basin. It’s leaf is up to 3 metres (9.8 ft) in diameter, on a stalk up to 8 metres (26 ft) in length. The genus name was given in honor of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.
Victoria cruziana: is native to the Parana-Paraguay basin. It’s leaf is only slightly smaller, with the underside of the leaves purple rather than the red of V. amazonica, and covered with a peachlike fuzz lacking in V. amazonica. V. cruziana opens its flowers at dusk.
At Chicago Botanic Garden, I saw two types of Victoria waterlily:
Victoria cruziana and Victoria Longwood hybrid.
Longwood hybrid is a cross between Victoria amazonica X Victoria cruziana.
Some interesting trivia about genus Victoria
– The large lily pads or leaves, which look like platter with a well defined rim, have very sharp needles underneath. These needles are about an inch long and are so sharp that they can penetrate a car tire. They defend the lily from fish and other animals. In contrast, the leaf surface feels smooth to touch and slightly rubbery. The needles can be seen clearly in the unfolding leaves.
– The web-like structure of veins are filled with air, giving the lily pads tremendous buoyancy. The leaves drain excess surface water with notches at the edge of each leaf.
– The leaf of V. amazonica is up to 9.8 ft in diameter. The leaf of V. cruziana is only slightly smaller, 4 to 5.5 feet in diameter.
The bloom turns from white to pink / from female to male. It has night blooming flowers, that have a life cycle of two nights. The first night the flower is white and is female. It has citrus fragrance which attracts pollinators. Second night it turns pink and is male.. After this it has completed its life-cycle and recedes into water.
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