Primlarp Wasuwat Chukiatman
Photo by Byoung Sup Ghill

The untold story of the strangely beautiful -

Nymphaea ‘Nangkwag'

by Primlarp Wasuwat Chukiatman
Click images to enlarge

N. 'Nangkwag Purple'

Some people may not think Nymphaea ‘Nangkwag' is the most beautiful waterlily, but it is one of the most interesting. It displays the unusual characteristic of very long and sometimes twisted sepals not seen in other tropical varieties. In searching the literature for ‘Nangkwag’, I discover nothing about it.

My father, Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat, tells me that his friend, who owned a waterlily shop at Tay-wait area of Bangkok, ordered some pink waterlilies from India and then gave him one to grow in 1983. He told Dr. Slearmlarp that he called it ‘Nangkwag’ because the sepals look like the fingers of a woman beckoning you.

The word “nangkwag” or “nang kwak” in Thailand has two meanings: the first one means the woman waving her hand at you; the second is the name of a spirit thought to bring money into the household or business. Sometimes the waterlily is called “Indian Goddess” in English. 

We have grown ‘Nangkwag’ at Pang U Bon Water Garden since Dr. Slearmlarp received it from his friend. We call the first one “Nangkwag Pink 1”. Over the 23 years we have grown it, we have found at least seven other varieties of ‘Nangkwags’ which we assume result from crosses of the original with other waterlily varieties. We distinguish them by name according to the color of their petals. These are pink, light pink, white, blue, red, purple, yellow, and two-tone. Besides various petal colors, ‘Nangkwag’ also produces two types of leaf color, green and green mottled or flecked with maroon.

N. 'Nangkwag Pink 2' 

N. 'Nangkwag White' 

Characteristics include:
. Mixed crenate and dentate oval leaves
. Long sepals with 24-32 petals
. Cultivation like other tropical waterlilies

‘Nangkwag’ is a medium sized waterlily that grows well in 30-60 centimeters (1-2 feet) of water depth. Give it a minimum water surface space of about 45 centimeters (1.5 feet) in diameter. It needs full sun for 4-6 hours a day.  

N. 'Nangkwag Blue'

N. 'Nangkwag Blue'

Some people in Thailand are becoming interested in ‘Nangkwak’ not because of the strange looking sepals or the number of varieties (as I am), but because of the other meaning of the name. They believe that growing this waterlily in their shop brings customers and money! 

N. 'Nangkwag Red' 

N. 'Nangkwag Purple' 

N. 'Nangkwag White' 

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