Information About Water Lilies


Water lilies possess one of the most beautiful and fragrant of flowers, but these aquatic plants have their drawbacks. In some parts of waterways, water lilies grow so thick that they inhibit such recreational activities as canoeing, fishing and water skiing.


Water lilies are native to the eastern portion of the United States. They have spread westward over time, inhabiting ponds, lakes and slow-moving stretches of rivers and large streams.


Water lily flowers are white or pink and have large petals. These petals surround the male and female parts of the flowers and are open only for a three-day period, attracting insects that bring pollen to and transport pollen from the plants.


The leaves of water lilies are almost perfectly round and grow as wide as 11 inches. The underside of water lily leaves are typically purple or red and have multiple veins running through them, with the stem attached to the middle part of the leaf.


Water lilies exist in dense patches, colonizing the shallower parts of the water. These floating "rafts" of water lilies have the ability to make the water beneath them low in oxygen, much as other invasive species such as the water hyacinth do as well.


Native Americans utilized water lilies for medicinal and food purposes. Wildlife such as muskrats, ducks, beavers and deer partake of the leaves and roots, and water lilies provide cover for game fish such as bass and pike.


  • State of Washington Department of Ecology
Keywords: water lilies, invasive aquatic plant, water lily flower

About this Author

John Lindell has written articles for "The Greyhound Review" and various other online publications. A Connecticut native, his work specializes in sports, fishing and nature. Lindell worked in greyhound racing for 25 years.