IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

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This water lily has spectacular fragrant flowers. The leaf pads are also attractive, but they can appear rather beat-up toward the end of the growing season. Fragrant Water Lily is very similar to Nymphaea tuberosa (White Water Lily), which is more common in Illinois. This latter species has slightly larger flowers (about 4-8" across) that are lacking in significant fragrance. Also, the petals of its flowers are more blunt at their tips than those of the Fragrant Water Lily. The seeds of White Water Lily are larger in size (3-4 mm. in length and ovoid-globoid in shape) than the seeds of Fragrant Water Lily (2 mm. in length and ellipsoid-oblongoid in shape). Other floating aquatic plants that are somewhat similar to water lilies include Nuphar advena (Spatterdock), Nelumbo lutea (Water Lotus), and Brasenia schreberi (Watershield). The flowers of these plants are either yellow or reddish purple, and they are all native to Illinois.

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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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