Giant waterlilies

These huge aquatic plants are native to tropical South America.

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Giant Waterlily

Giant waterlilies (Victoria amazonica)

Did you know?

  • 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 2.5m 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 48 hours or so. 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.

For more information on the giant waterlily (Victoria amazonica) visit our species profile.


8 comments on 'Giant waterlilies'

Kew Feedback Team says

16/10/2012 9:49:29 AM | Report abuse

Dear Mrs Sarcar, Many thanks for your interest in the Giant waterlillies (Victoria amazonica) at Kew. We don't sell these seeds unfortunately. I'm afraid we aren't able to offer a plant identification at present; Kew is primarily funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to carry out its mission as a science-based plant conservation organisation. Each year Kew receives a large number of requests for information, and we are often not best placed to answer these queries as it is not our area of expertise or to answer them all would require us to divert staff time away from scientific and conservation projects. You may wish to explore The National Plant Collections website: Thanks for getting in touch.

Maitreyee Sarcar HF FRSA says

12/10/2012 11:53:07 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mr Shaw, This is truly an amazing plant. And the name is very apt. You said that you grow these lilies each year from the seeds. Can anyone buy the seeds from you? I haven't seen the leaves like these before. I'm glad I visited you this June. I took many photographs and I am not sure about the names of some plants. Would you be able to tell me the names if I send you the pics? I will need your email id so that I can send the attachments via email. I anxiously await your reply, Kind regards, Maitreyee Mrs Maitreyee Sarcar

Kew Feedback team says

13/12/2010 2:03:20 PM | Report abuse

Hi Christoph, thanks for your question.
In cultivation in most climates they are generally grown as annual plants, completing their life cycle in one year. At Kew, low light levels during the winter and only a limited depth of water to grow in means that they deteriorate from October and don't survive from year to year, so we grow this amazing plant from seed every year. In their natural habitat they are sometimes perennial plants.
Wesley Shaw, Keeper of the Palm House, Kew

Christoph says

11/12/2010 7:33:33 AM | Report abuse

Really amazing. You´ve said that you plant new waterlilies every year. Does it mean that they live just for one year?

Feedback Team says

25/08/2010 12:00:00 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for your comment. Try contacting B & T World Seeds, a British company based in France who supply plant seeds worldwide. Their website address is

Rachel says

20/08/2010 12:00:00 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the youtube. How can you get the seeds?

Tea Norman says

12/07/2010 12:00:00 AM | Report abuse

The leaves are so big. Didn't know. Didn't know about the defense mechanism either.

Abigail Pajak says

20/10/2009 12:00:00 AM | Report abuse

they look huge!I wonder how big they actually are...

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