Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Nymphaea odorata
American water-lily, fragrant water-lily

Distribution: Occurring chiefly west of the Cascades crest in Washington; British Columbia to California, east to central and eastern North America, where native.

Habitat: Lowland ponds and lakes.

Flowers: June-October

Origin: Introduced from central and eastern North America

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Bees


Aquatic, perennial herbs from thick rhizomes, the leaves and flowers rising from the rhizomes.


Leaves floating, the blade deeply cordate, nearly orbicular, up to 25 cm. broad; petioles slender, terete, up to 2 m. long.


Flowers solitary, long-pedunculate, showy, white, tinged with pink, fragrant, opening in the morning and closing in the afternoon; sepals 4, greenish, 3-6.5 mm. long; petals white, 20-30, about equaling the sepals; stamens 50-100, yellow; style 1; stigmas 6-9, yellow, broad and spreading.


Fruit a berry-like capsule.

Accepted Name:
Nymphaea odorata Aiton
Publication: Hort. Kew. 2: 227. 1789. 1789.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
(none provided)
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Nymphaea odorata in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database

WA Flora Checklist: Nymphaea odorata checklist entry

OregonFlora: Nymphaea odorata information

E-Flora BC: Nymphaea odorata atlas page

CalPhotos: Nymphaea odorata photos

23 photographs:
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