Leaves. - Rounded, somewhat heart-shaped, floating on the surface of the water. Flowers. - Large, white, or sometimes pink, fragrant. Calyx. - Of four sepals which are green without. Corolla. - Of many petals. Stamens. - Indefinite in number. Pistil. - With a many-celled ovary whose summit is tipped with a globular projection around which are the radiating stigmas.
This exquisite flower calls for little description. Many of us are so fortunate as to hold in our memories golden mornings devoted to its quest. We can hardly take the shortest railway journey in summer without passing some shadowy pool whose greatest adornment is this spotless and queenly blossom. The breath of the lily-pond is brought even into the heart of our cities where dark-eyed little Italians peddle clusters of the long-stemmed fragrant flowers about the streets.
In the water-lily may be seen an example of so-called plant-metamorphosis. The petals appear to pass gradually into stamens, it being difficult to decide where the petals end and the stamens begin. But whether stamens are transformed petals, or petals transformed stamens seems to be a mooted question. In Gray we read, "Petals numerous, in many rows, the innermost gradually passing into stamens," while Mr. Grant Allen writes : "Petals are in all probability enlarged and flattened stamens, which have been set apart for the work of attracting insects," and goes on to say, "Flowers can and do exist without petals, but no flower can possibly exist without stamens, which are one of the two essential reproductive organs in the plant." From this he argues that it is more rational to consider a petal a transformed stamen than vice versa. To go further into the subject here would be impossible, but a careful study of the water-lily is likely to excite one's curiosity in the matter.