Amazon Waterlily – the Giant Lily

The extreme appearance of the amazon waterlily is simply a clever response to an atypical circumstance.

Credit: Carolyn Jones

Faced with extraordinary challenges, plants have evolved surprising solutions that might seem bizarre to human observers.

But really, extreme appearances are simply clever responses to atypical circumstances.

Take the Amazon waterlily (Victoria amazonica) – a supersized version of the familiar waterlily (Nymphaea). Each leaf can reach 2 m (6½ ft.) across and has a vertical rim up to several centimetres high. These hefty leaves require strong engineering – one look at their undersides gives their secret away: a sturdy structure of ribs and cross-ribs keep them afloat in strong currents.