The smallest water lily in the world

by Pakkapol Thaowetsuwan



Nymphaea thermarum Eb. Fisch. (Nymphaeaceae) is the smallest water lily in the world. Its flowers are about 2 cm. in diameter with white petals. Naturally, it can be found only in one hot spring in Rwanda, Africa. However, it was later found that its unique habitat got destroyed so this species is considered to be extinct in the wild. Fortunately, there are some individuals surviving in several botanic gardens thank to a successful germination technique developed by a horticulturist at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, UK. Surprisingly, this plant requires shallow water condition to germinate and grow, contrary to other submerged water lily. N. thermarum caught global attention in 2014 because one plant was stolen from a glasshouse at the RBGE, Kew. The motive is possibly its rarity and miniature size.

Fischer E, Rodriguez CM. 2010. 690. Nymphaea thermarum. Plant in Peril 34. In: Curtis Botanical Magazine. 27(4): 318-327.

Knight S. 2014. Why would someone steal the world’s rarest water lily? (accessed 29 Apr 2019)

Povilus RA, Lodasa JM, Friedman WE. 2015. Floral biology and ovule and seed ontogeny of Nymphaea thermarum, a water lily at the brink of extinction with potential as a model system for basal angiosperms. Annals of Botany 115: 211-226.


1 thought on “The smallest water lily in the world

  1. Kester Bull-Hereñu April 29, 2019 — 6:13 pm

    Amazing little thing!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close