Nymphaea lotus, Egyptian white water-lily (also called tiger lotus or white lotus), is an aquatic flowering plant in the Nymphaceae (water-lily family), native to Egypt, central and west Africa, and Madagascar, which is frequently used as an aquarium plant or in water gardens. It is neither a true lily (in the genus Liliaceae) nor a lotus (which generally refers to plants in the lotus family, Nelumbaceae, although there is also a genus Lotus included in the legume family, Fabaceae). This species has a white flower that opens at night, which is the source of most night-blooming white water-lily hybrids and cultivars in commerce today.
N. lotus grows from tubers that can persist for several months in dormant state during dry seasons. Leaves are round, 20–50 cm (8–20 inches) wide, dentate, with a notch at the petiole, and may spread 1.5–3 m (5–10 feet) from the roots. Petioles (leaf stems) and peduncles (flower stems) are generally pubescent (hairy). Flowers, which last 4 days and have a slight fragrance, are 15–25 cm across, and are generally held 15–30 cm above the water. Flowers have 4 sepals and 19–20 white petals, with numerous yellow anthers and stamens. N. lotus is occasionally viviparous, producing new plantlets from tubers that emerge from the flowers.
N. lotus has escaped from cultivation and is naturalized in the U.S., in Louisiana and Florida, but is not reported as a particularly aggressive invader.
- Everett, T.H. 1981. “Nymphaea.” The New York Botanical Garden Illustrated Encyclopedia of Horticulture 7: 2351–2357.
- FNA. 2011. Nymphaea. Flora of North America vol. 3. Retrieved 21 December 2011 from http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=122531.
- Slocum, P.D. 2005. Waterlilies and Lotuses: Species, Cultivars, and New Hybrids. Portland, OR: Timber Press. 260 p.
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