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Nymphaea alba - L.

Common Name White Water Lily, European white waterlily
Family Nymphaeaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards One report suggests that the plant is poisonous but gives no further details[19]. The plant contains the toxic alkaloids nupharine and nymphaeine, these substances have an effect on the nervous system[240].
Habitats Marshes, ponds, slow moving streams, lakes and canals up to 1.2m deep[7, 9, 17].
Range Most of Europe, including Britain.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Water Plants Full sun
Nymphaea alba White Water Lily, European white waterlily


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Nymphaea alba White Water Lily, European white waterlily
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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 
Nymphaea alba is a PERENNIAL.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Flies, beetles, self.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It can grow in water.

Synonyms

N. occidentalis. Castalia alba. C. speciosa.

Habitats

 Pond;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Root;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Coffee.

Root - cooked. Eaten when several years old[5, 145]. It contains up to 40% starch, 6% protein[7, 114]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute[7]. Seed - cooked. It contains about 47% starch[114].

Medicinal Uses



Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anaphrodisiac;  Anodyne;  Antiscrophulatic;  Astringent;  Cardiotonic;  Demulcent;  Sedative.

The rhizome is anodyne, antiscrofulatic, astringent, cardiotonic, demulcent and sedative[4, 7, 9, 240]. A decoction of the root is used in the treatment of dysentery or diarrhoea caused by irritable bowel syndrome. It has also been used to treat bronchial catarrh and kidney pain and can be taken as a gargle for sore throats[254]. Externally it can be used to make a douche to treat vaginal soreness or discharges. In combination with slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) or flax (Linum usitatissimum) it is used as a poultice to treat boils and abscesses[254]. The rhizome is harvested in the autumn and can be dried for later use[254]. The flowers are anaphrodisiac and sedative[254]. They have a generally calming and sedative effect upon the nervous system, reputedly reducing the sex drive and making them useful in the treatment of insomnia, anxiety and similar disorders[254]. A complete cure of uterine cancer by a decoction and uterine injection has been recorded[4]. According to one report the plant is not used in modern herbal practice, though it has been quoted as a remedy for dysentery[9].

Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

A water plant requiring a rich soil and a sunny position in still or slowly moving water[56, 200]. Best grown in 2 - 2.5 metres of water[200]. Prefers a pH between 6 and 7[200]. Dislikes acid conditions according to another report. This species is hardy to about -20°c[187]. There are two basic types of plant in this genus:- 'crawlers' are species with horizontal roots that often spread freely, with new plants being formed at intervals along the root. These species are useful for naturalising, but they do not flower very freely in the cool summers of Britain[214]. 'clumpers' have vertical roots and form slowly spreading clumps and produce offsets around the crown. These forms flower much more freely in Britain[214]. A very ornamental plant[1]. The flowers, which only open in bright sunshine, have a soft delicate scent[245].

Propagation

Seed - sow as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse in pots submerged under 25mm of water. Prick out into individual pots as soon as the first true leaf appears and grow them on in water in a greenhouse for at least two years before planting them out in late spring. The seed is collected by wrapping the developing seed head in a muslin bag to avoid the seed being lost. Harvest it 10 days after it sinks below the soil surface or as soon as it reappears[200]. Division in May. Each portion must have at least one eye. Submerge in pots in shallow water until established[56].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Euryale feroxFoxnut, Euryale32
Nuphar advenaCommon Spatterdock, Yellow pond-lily, Varigated yellow pond-lily32
Nuphar japonicum 31
Nuphar luteaYellow Water Lily, Yellow pond-lily, Rocky Mountain pond-lily, Varigated yellow pond-lily32
Nuphar polysepalaSpatterdock, Rocky Mountain pond-lily31
Nuphar pumilaYellow pond-lily31
Nymphaea candida 22
Nymphaea odorataFragrant Water Lily, American white waterlily33
Nymphaea tetragonaPygmy Water Lily20
Nymphaea tuberosaTuberous Water Lily, American white waterlily33

 

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Botanical References

17200

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