Giant water lily pads can carry more than 300Kg!

According to an experiment done by the head gardener of the botanical garden at Ghent, the maximum weight a giant lily pad was able to withhold on a single leaf was 344.73 kilograms

Victoria amazonica floating on water.

The Giant water lily, Victoria Amazonica, is the largest of the Nymphaeaceae (family of water lilies). This species has very large leaves, or pads. They can reach up to an astonishing 3 metres (m) in diameter, although they normally get up to 2-2,5 m.

The leaves and the flowers float on the water surface, while long submerged stalks up to 8 m long. The flowers are bright white the first night they bloom, and become pink by the second night after blooming.

The flowers are a beautiful sight to behold, but the wonder only lasts for about 48 hours and are relatively short lived. Their natural habitat is by the lakes and backwaters of the Amazon river in South-America. Since it´s discovery in 1801 by Tadeáš Haenke it has been a big hit in botanical gardens all over the world. And to this day people around the world witness their green waxy splendor.

It is said that the complex ‘architectural’ pattern of the vein structure below the leaves provided the inspiration for Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace design in 1851, for the Great Exhibition in London. However, Victoria Amazonica is most valued as an ornamental plant. Other uses for the plant in local areas where it is found is that the seeds of this species can be roasted and eaten, just like chestnuts.

 

close up of the structures underneath the leaf.
Giant water lily seeds.

Seriously strong leaf!

According to an experiment done by the head gardener of the botanical garden at Ghent, the maximum weight a giant lily pad was able to withhold on a single leaf was 344.73 kilograms (Kg)! This is of course quite variable, and depends on the plants size and age, and so on, but it is still pretty impressive!

This species is not currently thought to be threatened by extinction, however this plant lives in a highly specialised habitat. Climate change predictions for the Amazon basin are severe, and rainforest destruction, with consequent impacts on water quality and flow, may pose a significant threat in the future.

Drawing of the white flower before it turns pink, by Fitch 1851.

 

Sources: Knotts, Kit. “Victoria’s History”. Victoria Adventure. Knotts., “Nymphaeaceae Victoria Lindl.”. Plant Name Details. International Plant Name Index. 2005, FreeImages.com Content License