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The white water lily is a perennial plant that often form dense colonies. The leaves arise on flexible stalks from large thick rhizomes. The leaves are more round than heart-shaped, bright green, 6 to 12 inches in diameter with the slit about 1/3 the length of the leaf. Leaves usually float on the water’s surface. Flowers arise on separate stalks, have brilliant white petals (25 or more per flower) with yellow centers. The flowers may float or stick above the water and each opens in the morning and closes in the afternoon. The flowers are very fragrant. White water lily can spread from seeds or the rhizomes.
Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, ducks, etc). After aquatic plants die, their decompostion by bacteria and fungi provides food (called “detritus”) for many aquatic invertebrates. Deer, beaver, muskrat, nutria and other rodents will consume the leaves and rhizomes of white water lily, while the seeds are eaten by ducks.
There is a legend that goes with this plant on a plaque in Whiteshell Provincial Park. Here it is:
“Star fallen in the water” is the translation of the Ojibway name for the white water lily. According to legend, a star wanted to be closer to people than her home in the night sky. When she came to earth, she chose to take the shape of the white water lily.
Photographed in the Lily Pond, Whiteshell Provincial Park, Manitoba, Canada.
Canon EOS 50D; Canon 17-85mm lens