WATER-LILY FAMILY - Nymphaeaceae: Sweet-scented White Water-lily; Pond Lily; Water Nymph; Water Cabbage

Castalia odorata (Nymphaea odorata)

Flowers--Pure white or pink tinged, rarely deep pink, solitary, 3 to 8 in. across, deliciously fragrant, floating. Calyx of 4 sepals, green outside; petals of indefinite number, overlapping in many rows, and gradually passing into an indefinite number of stamens; outer row of stamens with petaloid filaments and short anthers, the inner yellow stamens with slender filaments and elongated anthers; carpels of indefinite number, united into a compound pistil, with spreading and projecting stigmas. Leaves: Floating, nearly round, slit at bottom, shining green above, reddish and more or less hairy below, 4 to 12 in. across, attached to petiole at centre of lower surface. Petioles and peduncles round and rubber-like, with 4 main air-channels. Rootstock: (Not true stem) thick, simple or with few branches, very long.

Preferred Habitat--Still water, ponds, lakes, slow streams.

Flowering Season--June-September.

Distribution--Nova Scotia to Gulf of Mexico, and westward to the Mississippi.

Sumptuous queen of our native aquatic plants, of the royal family to which the gigantic Victoria regia of Brazil belongs, and all the lovely rose, lavender, blue, and golden exotic water-lilies in the fountains of our city parks, to her man, beast, and insect pay grateful homage. In Egypt, India, China, Japan, Persia, and Asiatic Russia, how many millions have bent their heads in adoration of her relative the sacred lotus! From its centre Brahma came forth; Buddha, too, whose symbol is the lotus, first appeared floating on the mystic flower (Nelumbo nelumbo). Happily the lovely pink or white "sacred bean" or "rose-lily" of the Nile, often cultivated here, has been successfully naturalized in ponds about Bordentown, New Jersey, and may be elsewhere. If he who planteth a tree is greater than he who taketh a city, that man should be canonized who introduces the magnificent wild flowers of foreign lands to our area of Nature's garden.