Nymphaea alba

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"Nenuphar" redirects here. For the ballet, see Nénuphar.
European white water lily
Nymphaea alba in Duisburg.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
Order: Nymphaeales
Family: Nymphaeaceae
Genus: Nymphaea
Species: N. alba
Binomial name
Nymphaea alba
Nymphaea alba range.svg

Nymphaea alba, also known as the European white water lily, white water rose or white nenuphar, is an aquatic flowering plant of the family Nymphaeaceae.[1]

It grows in water that is 30–150 cm (12–59 in) deep and likes large ponds and lakes. The leaves can be up to 30 cm (12 in) in diameter and take up a spread of 150 cm (59 in) per plant.[1] The flowers are white and they have many small stamens inside. They are found all over Europe and in parts of North Africa and the Middle East in fresh water.[2]

The red variety (Nymphaea alba f. rosea) is cultivated from lake Fagertärn ("Fair tarn") in the forest of Tiveden, Sweden, where they were discovered in the early 19th century. The discovery led to a large-scale exploitation which nearly made it extinct in the wild before it was protected.[3]

Nymphaea candida J. Presl is sometimes considered a subspecies of N. alba (N. alba L. subsp. candida (J. Presl) Korsh.).[2]

It contains the active alkaloids nupharine and nymphaeine, and is a sedative and an aphrodisiac/anaphrodisiac depending on sources.[citation needed] Although roots and stalks are used in traditional herbal medicine along with the flower, the petals and other flower parts are the most potent. Alcohol can be used to extract the active alkaloids, and it also boosts the sedative effects. The root of the plant was used by monks and nuns for hundreds of years as an anaphrodisiac, being crushed and mixed with wine. In the earliest printed medical textbooks, authors maintained this use, though warning against consuming large and frequent doses.[4]

Varieties of Nymphaea alba
White Waterlily (Nymphaea alba), Neptune, Romania
Nymphaea alba from the estuary of the Zala River, Hungary
The red version, Fagertärn, Blekinge, Sweden


  1. ^ a b "White Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata)". www.dnr.state.mn.us. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 18 August 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Anderberg, Anders (1996). "Vit näckros". www.linnaeus.nrm.se (in Swedish). Swedish Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 18 August 2015. 
  3. ^ Wallsten, Maud; Thorson, Jan; Werlemark, Gun (2005). "Härstammar Claude Monets röda näckrosor från Fagertärn i Närke?" [Are Claude Monet's red water lilies derived from Fagertärn in Närke?] (PDF). Svensk Botanisk Tidskrift (in Swedish) (99:3–4): 146–153. Retrieved 18 August 2015. 
  4. ^ Nielsen (1979). Giftplanter [Poisonous plants]. Gyldendals grønne håndbøger (in Norwegian). Cappelen. pp. 68–69. ISBN 8701318411.