Nymphaeaceae is a family of flowering freshwater plants commonly called water lilies. There is about 70 species of the Water Lily in both tropical and temperate climates around the world. And the most prominent species of Nymphaeaceae are Nymphaea and Victoria. Nymphaea is found in a temperate climate whilst Victoria has two species of giant water lilies in South America. These circular water lilies are so large an adult person can sit on them. But not all water lilies are a perfect round shape, in fact, most have a radial notch in them and are quite small. No matter how they look though, it can be assured that they are good at adapting to their environment.
The taxonomic position of these plants has been debated for many years with no real agreement yet. They are believed to be amongst the first angiosperms, which are plants that produce their seeds on them, and broke away from gymnosperms 140 million years ago. Really the water lily is a very interesting plant, spending its entire life in freshwater with only the sun and nutrients in the water for food. Like all plants, Nymphaeaceae relies upon photosynthesis to survive and grow, too. It has a large root system and a very tough tuberous stem. Ever tried pulling a water lily out of the water? It’s nearly impossible due to its excellent water adaptability. As for the taxonomic debate, they seem to fit in the monocot category but have leaves like a dicot. The leaf has veins and a notch in it, however the plant itself only has three parts like a monocot.
The Sacred Lotus, a symbol of both Buddhism and Hindu culture and religion, belongs to the Nelumbonaceae family and used to be considered a water lily, but is now known to be a eudicot. The eudicot are ‘true dicots” with a colpi pollen structure (multiple pollen pores). With all water lilies the stems lack cambium and are hollow. It is easiest to see the perforated stem when its completely dried out. It really makes for a fascinating observation. Most plants don’t have hollow stems (bamboo stems are a more common example of this). The tuberous stem is useful for transporting water, nutrients, and oxygen up and down the plant. The pad on top soaks up the sun whilst the roots collect oxygen from the water. The pad also keeps the plant upright by making it float.
Water lilies are good at controlling phytoplankton in the water since the water lily consumes phosphate, which is what the phytoplankton live on. The water lily can be afflicted casually with improper sunlight, water that is too acid/alkaline, fish munching on the roots, black aphids, thrips, fungus, root rot introduced by other plants, and other water lilies causing overcrowding. They generally bloom in Spring and Summer with either purple, white, pink or yellow. However, the colossal tropical Victoria only blooms at night with thorns covering its underside. The water lily isn’t too difficult to plant in your backyard water garden depending upon how much time your willing to invest. Full sunlight with some evening shade, algae control, removing infected or dead plants, and proper propagating so they don’t get too crowded, is what it takes to grow these interesting aquatic plants. And they need at least six inches of water to grow. The plants usually reproduce asexually by breaking off at the rhizome (stem) or through pollination. The water lily is very good at adapting so nothing needs to be exact, but if you want your water lilies to outshine the rest of the neighborhood they can take a lot of time to care for.