Water lilies have stems that are buried under the mud. The stems connect to stalks, and the floating flowers and leaves are at the top. The flowers cannot survive in the cold, so the water lilies will die in the winter. The submerged roots and stems, however, are able to survive winters and therefore the lilies will reemerge in the spring. There are 46 species of water lilies, most having stamens. The most common water lily in North America is the White Water Lily, sometimes called the “pond lily” or the “jewel of the pond.” It boasts reddish leaves and large fragrant flowers.
Water lilies provide pollen for insects as well as food for fish and wildlife. The fruit is usually nutlike or berrylike. By covering the water surface, they shade the water and keep it cooler, which helps control algae that thrives in heat. Water lilies also shelter fish from birds of prey.
Water lilies are a beautiful part of nature. They are so beautiful that they inspired a series of paintings by the great French artist, Claude Monet. Over the last 30 years of his life, Monet painted over 250 oil paintings of the plants. These paintings are in museums all over the world and have sold at auctions for millions of dollars.