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Eco@Africa

Our Beautiful Planet: Water lilies

Water lilies come in many shapes and sizes. They are beautiful and mysterious. The biggest specimen in the world is the subject of Our Beautiful Planet.

Superlatives are often misused, but in this case they are exactly what is needed.

The Amazon Water Lily, otherwise known as Victoria Amazonica or just Victoria is simply awesome and has captured the imagination of generations. It is the largest water lily in the world and has stunning proportions. But to see them in nature you will have to seek out the calm, shallow waters in the Amazon River basin.

These plants have leaves that are up to 3 meters (9.8 feet) in diameter that float on top of the water. The edges of their round leaves are turned up, making them look like huge green serving trays.  

These massive leaves are able to support a surprising amount of weight due to their intricate under-structure, although the leaf itself is quite delicate. If the weight is properly distributed one leaf can support up to 32 kilograms (71 pounds).

Their stalks can reach up to 8 meters to span the distance to the soil below. Their beautiful flowers can be 40 centimeters in diameter and are white the first night they open and shockingly transform to pink the second night.

Though the plant had been described as early at 1825 by Aimé Bonpland, it was John Lindley who first published his findings in 1837. He therefore got the credit and also got to name the plant, which he did in honor of Britain's Queen Victoria, who took the throne in the same year.

Today these plants are not nearly as exotic as they once were. Now botanical gardens throughout the world have them on display, bringing a part of South America closer to home.

Do you have a picture of a beautiful landscape or amazing nature that you want to share with readers? If so, you can send it to us using the upload tool on our website, or by emailing us at ecoafrica@dw.com.

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