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.
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