Fragrant Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata)
There are two species of water lily commonly found in northwest lakes and ponds: the previously posted, and native yellow variety, Nuphar polysepalum, and this showier non-native. Sometimes called “American Water Lily”, it is native to the eastern U.S. and is considered an invasive weed in the west. Odorata obviously refers to its strong fragrance, which we were unable to observe without getting extremely muddy.
For readers unfamiliar with this plant, it is quite spectacular. The nearly perfectly circular leaves, which mostly float just on top of the water, are up to a foot across, while the blooms, which open and close each day, can reach eight inches in diameter. Both the leaves and flowers are connected to roots in the muddy lake-bottom by long stalks.
The water lilies grown and painted by Claude Monet were probably a similar, but different species that he reportedly imported from Egypt and South America.