White Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata)

White water lily illustration White water lily photo


Common names: Lily pad; fragrant water lily.

Location: Grows rooted in mucky or silty bottoms up to 5 feet deep.

Description: White flower with rows of petals surrounding a yellow center; rooted on the bottom and floating on the water surface or extending slightly above it; surrounded by round, floating leaves that are green-colored and 6 to 12 inches in diameter; plant stem is mostly below water surface.

Hints to identify: Familiar "lily pad" shape----floating, round leaves, green on top and green or purplish underneath; leaves have a slit from the edge to the center; flower opens in morning and usually closes by afternoon.

Importance of plant: Provides excellent habitat for largemouth bass and sunfish; seeds are eaten by waterfowl; highly decorative----often planted in water gardens.

Management strategy: See DNR regulations. Because of its value as fish habitat and as a decorative plant, the white water lily is usually best left alone. Removing it may allow less-desirable plants to move in. If removal is necessary to clear space for boat access. Boat traffic will open and maintain a path, however herbicide can also provide effective control. The lily's thick tubers make hand-pulling or cutting difficult.