Close-up of the large, floating leaves and white blooming flower of Nymphaea odorata (American White Waterlily).
Close-up of a frog among the large, floating leaves of Nymphaea odorata (American White Waterlily).

Nymphaea odorata (American White Waterlily) Unity Grown

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Nymphaea odorata (American White Waterlily) is a floating aquatic plant defined by its large, rounded, floating leaves and large, fragrant, white or pink flowers. Nymphaea odorata is typically found in still or slow-moving water up to 5 or 6 feet deep and is well adapted to its aquatic habitat. The plant's rounded leaves are finely, and deeply cut almost to the center, and are up to 10 inches across, floating on the surface of the water or just beneath. Each leaf-producing stem also produces a large, fragrant flower, typically white or white tinged with pink, with a yellow center. Flowers bloom from summer into the early fall, but each flower only blooms for a short window during the morning over the course of three days before sinking underwater to develop seeds.

American white waterlily produces rhizomatic roots, which are spongy and filled with hollow spaces for storing oxygen that is transported down the stems from the leaves. Occasionally, and especially during choppy weather, pieces of this rhizomatic root growth will break off and are capable of sprouting new colonies of waterlilies elsewhere in the body of water. Plants are valuable to pollinators, and as a food source to waterfowl and aquatic mammals.

American White Waterlily is only native to the eastern half of the United States, and in some places in the Western half of the country, it has escaped ornamental ponds and become invasive.

Native to Maryland, Native to U.S., Straight Species, and Native to Eastern Shore
Mature Plant Height: Very Short: under 12"
Sun to Shade-Wide Tolerance
Soil Moisture: Wet
Soil Type: Wide Tolerance
Bloom Time: Summer and Fall
Flower Color: White
Foliage color: Green and Purple
Features: Attracts Birds, Attracts Pollinators, Attracts Wildlife, Fragrant, and Fall Color
Tolerances: Flood Tolerant
Garden Type: Wetland Restoration and Full Aquatic

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