Monday, December 19, 2005

GENUS -Nymphaea – Waterlilies Joel Plumb
Worldwide some 50 or more species.
in Queensland - 10 species (2 exotic)

NomenclatureNymphaea - in Greek and Roman mythology nymphs were beautiful maidens of a lesser divinity who
lived in groves, forests, springs, fountains, streams, lakes, mountains, oceans etc and thus the name has been applied botanically to water lilies.

Species recorded in Rockhampton/Capricorn Coast area
Nymphaea caerulea var zanzibarensis (E)
Nymphaea gigantea var gigantea
Nymphaea immutabilis
Nymphaea mexicana (E)
Nymphaea nouchali

Characteristics of the genus
Form Aquatic plants with creeping rhizomes or tuberous stems rooting in the mud at the bottom of the pool.
Leaves Flat, round to heart-shaped, small to large, thin or thick, green to reddish-green, floating on the surface of the water attached to long petioles.
Flowers Large, showy, variously coloured, on or raised above the water surface on long stout peduncles; sepals
3-5 (usually 4), petals 6-50.
Fruits Ripening under water, fleshy, capsule-like; seeds embedded in a gelatinous substance which keeps them afloat for a time after dehiscing from capsule.

Some usesWaterlilies were an important food item for many aboriginal tribes - flowers were eaten raw as were stems and stalks after peeling, young tuberous stems were baked, seeds were baked in the pods and eaten or ground up to make cakes or loaves.
Waterlilies have long been popular horticulturally in ponds and water features.
An unusual custom recorded in some tribes by Sir Baldwin Spencer was that front teeth when knocked out as part of a ceremony were buried beside a lagoon or water hole to make the waterlilies grow.

Field note
The more common Nymphaea species encountered locally are (a) Nymphaea caerulea var zanzibarensis and (b) Nymphaea gigantea, the following tips should aid in identification.
(a)petal apices pointed; anthers curving towards flower centre; terminal anther appendages same colour as petals (b)petal apices rounded; anthers straight upright; terminal anther appendages yellow

Recorded wildlife connections with NymphaeaBirds recorded feeding on Nymphaea species
darter, magpie goose, plumed whistling duck, wandering whistling duck, black swan, green pygmygoose, cotton pygmy-goose, grey teal, Pacific black duck, hardhead, dusky moorhen, Eurasian coot and whiskered tem.
Insects recorded associating with Nymphaea species
Donacia beetle species, the larvae of which, can pierce plant roots to obtain air.

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