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American white waterlily (Nymphaea odorata)

American white waterlily Common Names: Fragrant water lily

Description: Native to most of the United States but can be weedy or invasive in some areas. Considered a noxious weed in the western part of the country.

Habit: Rooted, aquatic perennial herb with large floating flowers and leaves.

Leaves: Round, narrowly cut almost to center, 8-10 inches across, bright green in color on top, reddish or purple in color below.

Stems: Unbranched, bearing a single floating flower at its' apex. Resemble leaf petioles.

Flowers: 3-6 inches wide, white or pink in color, round, 4 greenish white sepals, 20-30 petals that are elliptic-lanceolate and curve slightly upward. Bloom summer and early fall lasting only 3-4 days. Very fragrant.

Fruit and seeds: Stalk contracts and forms a rounded fruit with several seeds that mature underwater and floating to the surface when ripe.

Habitat: Native to most of the United States. Can be found in lakes, ponds and streams

Reproduction: By seed and vegetatively by rhizomes.

Similar species: White water lily (Nymphaea tuberosa).

Monitoring and rapid response: Small populations can be dug up or hand pulled making sure to remove all root and stem fragments. For larger infestations, removal of leaves and cutting the top of the stems can be effective if repeated annually for 2-3 years. Can be controlled using aquatic herbicides.

Credits: The information provided in this factsheet was gathered from the Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States, Illinois Wildflowers and King County WA.

Individual species images that appear with a number in a black box are courtesy of the network ( photo author credits may not be included due to the small display size of the images and subsequent difficulty of reading the provided text. All other images appear courtesy of Google (

Common Name:

American white waterlily

Scientific Name:

Nymphaea odorata







USDA Symbol: