Nymphaea odorata

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Nymphaea odorata
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Order: Nymphaeales
Family: Nymphaeaceae
Genus: Nymphaea
N. odorata
Binomial name
Nymphaea odorata

Nymphaea odorata, also known as the American white waterlily,[1] fragrant water-lily,[2] beaver root, fragrant white water lily, white water lily, sweet-scented white water lily, and sweet-scented water lily,[3] is an aquatic plant belonging to the genus Nymphaea. It can commonly be found in shallow lakes, ponds, and permanent slow moving waters throughout North America where it ranges from Central America to northern Canada.[4][5][6][7] It is also reported from Brazil and Guyana.[8][9]

A cultivated Nymphaea odorata


This plant is rooted from a branched rhizomes which gives rise to long petioles which terminate in smooth floating leaves. Since the leaves are subject to tearing by water and waves, they are round with a waxy upper coating that is water-repellent.[10] The flowers also float. They are radially symmetric with prominent yellow stamens and many white petals. The flowers open each day and close again each night and are very fragrant. Once the flowers are pollinated, the developing fruit is pulled back under water for maturation.[11]

Plant systematists often use it as a typical member of Nymphaeaceae, which (other than Amborella) is the most basal of the flowering plants.[12]

It is cultivated in aquatic gardens as an ornamental plant.

Edible and medicinal parts[edit]

The fragrant water-lily has both medicinal and edible parts. The seeds, leaves, flowers and rhizomes can all be eaten. The rhizomes were also used by Native Americans to treat coughs and colds. The stem could be used to treat tooth aches if placed directly on the tooth.[13]

The muck-submerged stems are eaten by muskrats.[14]


  • Nymphaea odorata subsp. odorata
  • Nymphaea odorata subsp. tuberosa


The lignans nymphaeoside A and icariside E, and the flavonols kaempferol 3-O-alpha-l-rhamnopyranoside (afzelin), quercetin 3-O-alpha-l-rhamnopyranoside (quercitrin), myricetin 3-O-alpha-l-rhamnopyranoside (myricitrin), quercetin 3-O-(6'-O-acetyl)-beta-d-galactopyranoside, myricetin 3-O-beta-d-galactopyranoside and myricetin 3-O-(6'-O-acetyl)-beta-d-galactopyranoside can be found in N. odorata.[15]


  1. ^ "Nymphaea odorata". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  2. ^ BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  3. ^ "Lady Bird Johnson Nymphaea Odorata". Retrieved May 30, 2015.
  4. ^ Stevens, W. D., C. Ulloa Ulloa, A. Pool & O. M. Montiel. 2001. Flora de Nicaragua. Monographs in systematic botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 85: i–xlii
  5. ^ CONABIO. 2009. Catálogo taxonómico de especies de México. 1. In Capital Nat. México. CONABIO, Mexico City
  6. ^ Scoggan, H. J. 1978. Dicotyledoneae (Saururaceae to Violaceae). 3: 547–1115. In Flora of Canada. National Museums of Canada, Ottawa.
  7. ^ Godfrey, R. K. & J. W. Wooten. 1981. Aquatic and Wetland Plants of Southeastern United States Dicotyledons 1–944. Univ. Georgia Press, Athens
  8. ^ Funk, V. A., P. E. Berry, S. Alexander, T. H. Hollowell & C. L. Kelloff. 2007. Checklist of the Plants of the Guiana Shield (Venezuela: Amazonas, Bolivar, Delta Amacuro; Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana). Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 55: 1–584
  9. ^ Forzza, R. C. 2010. Lista de espécies Flora do Brasil http://floradobrasil.jbrj.gov.br/2010 Archived 2015-09-06 at the Wayback Machine. Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro
  10. ^ Sculthorpe, C. D. (1967). The Biology of Aquatic Vascular Plants. Reprinted 1985 Edward Arnold, by London.
  11. ^ Keddy, P.A. 2010. Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation (2nd edition). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 497 p.
  12. ^ Judd, W. S., C. S. Campbell, E.A. Kellogg, P. F. Stevens, and M. J. Donoghue. 2002. Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach. 2nd edn. Sunderland: Sinauer.
  13. ^ Arnason, J. T., Hamersley Chambers, F., Karst, A., Kershaw, L., Mackinnon, A., Owen, P. 2009. Edible & medicinal plants of Canada. Edmonton, AB: Lone Pine Publishing
  14. ^ Niering, William A.; Olmstead, Nancy C. (1985) [1979]. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Knopf. p. 639. ISBN 0-394-50432-1.
  15. ^ Zhang, Z; Elsohly, HN; Li, XC; Khan, SI; Broedel Jr, SE; Raulli, RE; Cihlar, RL; Burandt, C; Walker, LA (2003). "Phenolic compounds from Nymphaea odorata". Journal of Natural Products. 66 (4): 548–50. doi:10.1021/np020442j. PMID 12713413.

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