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Giant waterlilies

These huge aquatic plants are native to tropical South America.

Giant waterlilies

About giant waterlilies

Giant waterlilies (Victoria amazonica) were first discovered in Bolivia in 1801 and subsequently named in honour of Queen Victoria. The enormous leaves, which grow to over 2.5 metres across, have a network of protruding ribs on the underside, which give the leaf buoyancy and stability. A mature leaf can support 45 kg, if the load is evenly distributed.

The flowers are large and fragrant, but relatively short-lived, lasting only approximately 48 hours. As each flower matures, it changes colour from white, through pink, to purplish-red, finally sinking below the surface.

You can see Kew's giant waterlilies in the Waterlily House and the Princess of Wales Conservatory.