Primlarp Wasuwat Chukiatman
Photo by Byoung Sup Ghill

Beginners and experts alike can learn from -

Simple Characteristics for Identification

of Ornamental Nymphaea

by Primlarp Wasuwat Chukiatman
Click images to enlarge

Problems that have always faced the author in the development of new Nymphaea cultivars are recognizing different characteristics to identify hybrids. After working side by side with my father, Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat, his explanation, demonstration and training have helped me to learn the following :

Historically, plants in family Nymphaeaceae are among the oldest groups of plants on earth. Recently, botanists have agreed to split this family in two. Those with hard and rigid petiole and peduncle are grouped under Nelumbonaceae. The others with soft petiole and peduncle are grouped under Nymphaeaceae. Plants well known to everyone in Nelumbonaceae are lotuses, and in Nymphaeaceae are waterlilies. Both are cross-pollinated in nature and in cultivation. Therefore, many of them are not pure lines. Thus, one cannot expect true-to-type plants from seed of lotus and waterlily.

Evidence of this is illustrated by my father's hybrid experiments :

1. Nymphaea 'Ply' and N. 'Praow' are progeny (among many others) of a cross of N. 'Trail Blazer' x N. 'Mr. Martin E. Randig'.

N. 'Ply'

N. 'Praow'

2. N. 'Gulyanee' and N. 'Thong Garnjana' are hybrids (among many others) from self-pollination of N. 'Trail Blazer'.

N. 'Gulyanee'

N. 'Thong Garnjana'

None of them resembles the parents.

It is important to know plant characteristics well enough to be able to identify them. This knowledge is needed for not only the hybridizers, but also for propagators and dealers as well. The propagators who multiply Nymphaea for sale in particular must know how to identify the waterlilies that they grow.

Occasionally one may neglect or forget to pinch fertilized flowers until they produce seeds. Seeds germinate and grow in the same containers as mother plants. Darwin's "Survival of the Fittest" takes over. Strong new seedling Nymphaeas overgrow the mother plant and strange new variations appear in the groups of plants to sell. If the owner does not know plant characteristics and cull them out, you can imagine what is going to happen when those plants reach the customer.

Simple visual characteristics of Nymphaea that can serve as a guide for the beginners are :

Leaf : form, apex, base, sinus, colours -- top and underside.
Petiole (leaf stem) and peduncle (flower stem) : colour, hairy or not hairy.
Flower bud prior to bloom : form, colour.
Blooming flower : form, inner sepal colour, petal colour, petal numbers, stamen and pistil colour.

At Pang-U-Bon, we keep a few Nymphaea hybrids for illustration of these points to visitors. Examples of Nymphaea which have flowers that look alike are these, our new hybrids producing dark purple flowers :  



 Upper leaf colour

Underside leaf colour

N. 'Muang


N. 'Muang


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