The Day Water Lily is an aquatic plant with round, floating leaves split by a V-notch. These plants have underground stems which are firmly anchored to the mud under water by means of rather thick, spreading roots. The rhizome (underground stem) is 4 - 5 cm in diameter, black in colour and rather spongy. The leaves float on long, spongy stalks and are round with a deep notch or cut from the centre to the outer edge. The large flowers of the Day Water Lily are carried on long stalks just above the surface of the water and may be white, yellow, blue or pink in colour and open only in sunshine, close at night and re-open the following morning. They have many pointed petals and are also scented. There are about 60 species of Waterlilies, but only one species is in South Africa, namely the Day Waterlily. Waterlilies are very showy plants.
The Lilies occurs in pans, dams and pools in slow-flowing rivers and found throughout the world including in all provinces of South Africa and the Kruger National Park.
After they have been pollinated by bees or beetles, the flowers are drawn back under water where the seeds ripen. The ripe seeds float and are dispersed by water currents. They rise to the surface, float for a while, and finally sink into the mud, where they germinate.
The Lily is one of the most revered plants on earth and it is said that when Buddha died the flowers blossomed everywhere where he had walked. It is also the national flower of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.