Swamp Tour Water Lillies

Mikaela Lopez

Student
Water lilies, or Nymphaeaceae, are a family of flowering plants. They live in tropical climates and are rooted in soil in fresh water bodies of water, marshes, and swamps. They are easy to spot with their distinctive leaves and flowers floating on the surface of the water.

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 attractive, but are considered an invasive weed. When water lilies grow too thickly, covering the water’s surface, they impede the oxygen exchange. They can also trap heat in the water, leading to algae growing out of hand, and causing stagnation in the water, which in turn creates a habitat for mosquitoes. One can thin out water lilies without having to eliminate them.

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.

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