E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Nymphaea odorata Aiton
fragrant waterlily (American white waterlily)
Nymphaeaceae (Water-lily family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Province of British Columbia (Bill Jex)  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #3242)

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Distribution of Nymphaea odorata
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Nymphaea odorata ssp. odorata

Species Information

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Perennial aquatic herb from a thick, prostrate rhizome; stems slender; stolons lacking.
Floating, scattered loosely along the rhizome, without blotches or dots, heart-shaped, the blades 10-40 cm wide, 10-40 cm long, long-stalked.
Inflorescence of showy, fragrant flowers that open in the morning and close in the afternoon, 6-19 cm wide; petals white or rarely pink, 17-43, equal to or exceeding the sepals; sepals 4, 3-6.5 cm long; stamens yellow; stigmatic disk margin appendages 3-8 mm long.
Berry-like capsules, leathery, many-seeded, rupturing irregularly with a jelly-like seed mass; seeds egg-shaped, 1.5-2.5 mm long, 1.5-1.7 mm wide.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Lakes, ponds and slow-moving streams in the lowland, steppe and lower montane zones; infrequent in SW and SC BC; introduced from E North America.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Castalia lekophylla Small
Castalia minor (Sims) Nyar
Castalia odorata (Aiton) Alph. Wood
Castalia reniformis DC.
Nymphaea minor (Sims) DC.
Nymphaea odorata var. gigantea Tricker
Nymphaea odorata var. godfreyi Ward
Nymphaea odorata var. minor Sims
Nymphaea odorata var. rosea Pursh
Nymphaea odorata var. stenopetala Fernald
Nymphaea odorata var. villosa Caspary

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References