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Water lily

Water lily

The water lily is an aquatic plant that belongs to the nymphaeaceae family. Originally from Asia, it is now widespread all over the world, including about fifty varieties that adapt to any microclimate. The aquatic plants of the genus nuphar also belong to the same family of the water lily, which show only some differences in the structure of the floral apparatus and in the ripening of the fruits. Due to their particular appearance, water lilies are mistakenly assimilated to lotus flowers, other aquatic species belonging to the Nelumbo genus, used in Chinese cuisine and considered sacred by Hindus. Plants of the water lily genus are, on the other hand, cultivated for ornamental purposes, to decorate ponds or other small aquatic spaces.

Variety


The main classification of water lilies is between tropical and rustic species. The former grow in the hottest areas of the planet, while the latter also adapt to more rigid or temperate climates and are easily grown in our gardens for pure ornamental purposes. Tropical species can also be cultivated, which require special precautions to survive in the winter months. In Italy, the species that develop spontaneously and in any case the most widespread are only two: Ninfea Alba and Ninfea Candida. Both grow on stagnant waters and are hydrophytic and rooting plants, i.e. species whose buds develop in water and whose roots anchor themselves to the seabed. The Ninfea Alba is widespread up to 1500 meters above sea level, it is a perennial aquatic plant that can reach a height of two meters, its flowers are white, sometimes with pink shades. This species also includes a dwarf variety (Ninfea Pygmaea Alba) which is suitable for growing on terraces and balconies. Perennial and with white flowers is also the Ninfea Candida, which has a lower height than the Alba variety and up to one and a half meters. This species develops in the northernmost regions, towards the Alps and also in the Austrian borders. Ninfea Alba and Candida, due to the natural habitat in which they develop, are classified among the rustic species. Among the tropical ones, however, we remember: the Amazonian nymph, the nymph capensis, the nymph rubra and the star nymph. Other rustic species, that is, suitable to be cultivated even in the coldest areas, are: the tuberous nymph and the odorata nymph. The Amazonian water lily prefers very hot climates and has very fragrant yellow flowers. The water lily capensis is grown in regions with a warm or temperate climate, such as Sicily. Its flowers vary from yellow, to purple, to blue, and emit a pleasant scent. The rubra water lily has purple-colored flowers and prefers very hot climates, while the starry water lily, always suitable for hot climates, has blue flowers with an irregular shape. The tuberous nymph features white and pink flowers that emit an intense and very pleasant scent. This variety is grown outdoors even in areas with a harsher climate. The flowers of the odorous nymph are also very fragrant, white, streaked with red and with the same climatic requirements as the tuberous variety. Its flowers vary from yellow, to purple, to blue, and emit a pleasant scent. The rubra water lily has purple-colored flowers and prefers very hot climates, while the starry water lily, always suitable for hot climates, has blue flowers with an irregular shape. The tuberous nymph features white and pink flowers that emit an intense and very pleasant scent. This variety is grown outdoors even in areas with a harsher climate. The flowers of the odorous nymph are also very fragrant, white, streaked with red and with the same climatic requirements as the tuberous variety. Its flowers vary from yellow, to purple, to blue, and emit a pleasant scent. The rubra water lily has purple-colored flowers and prefers very hot climates, while the starry water lily, always suitable for hot climates, has blue flowers with an irregular shape. The tuberous nymph features white and pink flowers that emit an intense and very pleasant scent. This variety is grown outdoors even in areas with a harsher climate. The flowers of the odorous nymph are also very fragrant, white, streaked with red and with the same climatic requirements as the tuberous variety. The tuberous nymph features white and pink flowers that emit an intense and very pleasant scent. This variety is grown outdoors even in areas with a harsher climate. The flowers of the odorous nymph are also very fragrant, white, streaked with red and with the same climatic requirements as the tuberous variety. The tuberous nymph features white and pink flowers that emit an intense and very pleasant scent. This variety is grown outdoors even in areas with a harsher climate. The flowers of the odorous nymph are also very fragrant, white, streaked with red and with the same climatic requirements as the tuberous variety.

General characteristics


The water lily is a plant with a perennial vegetative cycle, that is, longer than two years. It is, as already mentioned, among the aquatic species, because it develops within water courses or in marshy areas. The length of the water lily depends on the depth of the watercourse. Typically, this plant almost never exceeds two meters, with minimum heights ranging from twenty to thirty centimeters. The ideal habitat of the water lily is water, where the plant is able to germinate and root. Some varieties also develop in ponds and marshy areas, managing to adapt even to very low water levels. The water lily, due to its ability to develop in water, is called hydrophytic. Its roots are able to stick to the seabed, which is why, in defining and classifying it, the term rooting is also used. The root system of the water lily is composed of an underground swelling (the rhizome), from which secondary roots develop. The stem from which the roots develop is submerged and opposite the leaves emerging from the water. Its structure is tuberous. The rounded leaves, sometimes very large and petiolate, are leathery and dark green in color. The upper part of the leaves, the one that comes out of the water, is coated with a wax that prevents them from getting wet and allows the absorption and passage of air and light, while the lower part, submerged, is composed of anthocyanins that transform the sun’s rays in heat. Its structure is tuberous. The rounded leaves, sometimes very large and petiolate, are leathery and dark green in color. The upper part of the leaves, the one that comes out of the water, is coated with a wax that prevents them from getting wet and allows the absorption and passage of air and light, while the lower part, submerged, is composed of anthocyanins that transform the sun’s rays in heat. Its structure is tuberous. The rounded leaves, sometimes very large and petiolate, are leathery and dark green in color. The upper part of the leaves, the one that comes out of the water, is coated with a wax that prevents them from getting wet and allows the absorption and passage of air and light, while the lower part, submerged, is composed of anthocyanins that transform the sun’s rays in heat.

Flowers


Water lily flowers are unique, not just in beauty, but in the sense that these plants are composed of large single flowers emerging from the water surrounded by a base of leaves. The colors of the flower arrangement of the water lily vary according to the cultivated species. There are varieties with white, yellow, red, blue, blue, purple, pink and burgundy flowers around. Very intense colors are obtained from hybrid species created in US laboratories. All these flowers emit a pleasant scent and open during the day, stimulated by the sun’s rays, while they close again at night, following the natural rhythms of the day and creating a truly suggestive effect in the garden. The petals of water lily flowers are innumerable and are divided by five or six sepals (narrow leaves that make up the corolla). The water lilies, due to the shape of the flowers, they are often assimilated to aquatic plants of the genus nuphar, but in the latter the sepals are larger than the petals, while in the water lilies it is the opposite: sepals smaller than the petals. The flowering of the water lily occurs between spring and summer.

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