July 2020. Discovered on local canal, South Staffordshire. © Peter Hillman
Nymphaea is Latin, which comes from a Greek term possibly referring to nymph or nymph-like, of a mythological supernatural spirit of nature, often described as a beautiful maiden associated with water, which would be very befitting for this delicate aquatic plant. Alba is Latin for white, which speaks for itself.
This is Britain’s largest flower, an unmistakable aquatic plant with satin white petals and bright yellow male anthers. The flowers will only open in bright sunshine. The dark green leaves are basal, rounded with a cleft split at the stalk.
It flowers June to September. Found on still or slow-moving water like ponds, lakes, canals, streams and rivers. Common and widespread throughout Britain.
Class Magnoliopsida (Dicotyledons)
Family Nymphaeaceae (Water Lilies)
Species Nymphaea alba L.
Flower width 10-20 cm.