The water lily, which has lived in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew (UK) for 177 years, turned out to be a completely new species and the largest water lily in the world.
The discovery is notable for being the first discovery of a new species of water lily in a century, and scientists are calling it “one of the botanical wonders of the world.”
The discovery was initiated by horticulturist Carlos Magdalena and botanist artist Lucy Smith. Two examples of water lilies – one from Kew Gardens and one from the National Herbarium of Bolivia – were previously considered Amazonian Victoria. However, after a long study, the team confirmed that it was a new scientific species.
To identify the species, the team used a combination of historical records, geographic and horticultural notes, and live specimens from around the world. Botanists have carried out an extensive DNA analysis of the plant and found that this water lily is genetically very different from other known species.
The plant was named after the Bolivian partners of the project – today the most gigantic species of water lilies on the planet is called Victoria Bolivia. It is found in the aquatic ecosystems of the Llanos de Moxos. Its leaves can reach up to three meters in diameter.
Water lily flowers change color from white to pink and bloom only at night and around noon. This gigantic beauty can measure up to 36 centimeters in diameter, compared to 30 centimeters for the other two related species.