Your help is appreciated. We depend on donations to help keep this site free and up to date for you. Can you please help us?


Native Plant Trust: Go Botany Discover thousands of New England plants

Family: Nymphaeaceae — water-lily family

The Nymphaeaceae family is made up of aquatic perennial herbs growing from a thick horizontal rhizome. The stems and leaves have air chambers to assist with flotation. The leaves arise on long petioles directly from the rhizome or from erect stems (depending on the species). The leaves float on the surface of the water; some species also have submersed leaves. Submersed leaves are palmately divided into linear lobes. The floating leaves vary in shape: they may be circular, oval, or elliptic in outline, with a notch at their base in some species. In some species, the petiole is attached to the center of the leaf instead of at its base. The leaf margins are entire. The flowers are long-stalked and solitary and have both pollen-bearing and ovule-bearing parts. The flowers either have 3 sepals and 3 petals or many perianth parts that may gradually transition from sepals to petals or petals to stamens (depending on the species). Each flower has 4-35 carpels; these may be fused together into a single structure or separate from one another. Those species with fused carpels produce a spongy to leathery berry. Those species with distinct carpels produce a leathery seed-like fruit called an achene. Species formerly considered to belong to a separate family, called the Cabombaceae, are now included here in the Nymphaeaceae.

This family’s genera in New England

Visit this family in the Dichotomous Key