© Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro
With its big leaves, similar to floating trays, the Victoria
waterlily has been admired for its splendor by visitors at the
Frei Leandro pond, shaped like and at the heart of the Rio de
Janeiro Botanical Gardens.
Indigenous Brazilian people have legends that explain the
origin of the Victoria waterlily. According to one of
them, a cabocla girl, enraptured by love, wanted to touch Laci
- the moon - to become a star and satiate her passion. Seeing
the moon reflected in the surface of a lake, the young woman
dived, thinking she could touch it, and drowned. Touched by the
fate of the beautiful cabocla, Laci changed her into a star of
the water: the Victoria waterlily.
The first specimens that bloomed at our Botanical Garden were
grown from seeds brought from Mato Grosso by botanist Frederico
Carlos Hoehne, around 1910. Previous introduction trials had
been performed by Barbosa Rodrigues, but without much success
An interesting note that demonstrates the possibility of better-looking
plants in cultivation than in nature is found in a later report
by Gastão Cruls (1945) during his expedition to the Amazon
from 1926 to 1928: "There are three or four leaves of "vitória-régia"
floating on the still water. They are weak and are far from resembling
the ones cultivated at Rio de Janeiro, exploding in magnificent
Additional specimens were donated in 2000 by the Goeldi Museum
in Pará, Brazil, and now grow along with the offspring
of the original introduction that germinated after the restoration
of the Frei Leandro Pond in that same year, increasing the genetic
diversity of our specimens, since the original collections were
performed at very distant sites.
G. Cruls, Hiléia Amazônica. São
Paulo. Editora Nacional. 1944. pg. 34.
G. Cruls, A Amazônia que eu vi. São Paulo. Editora
Nacional. 1945. pg. 11.