An Eco-sustainable World
HerbaceousSpecies Plant

Victoria amazonica

Victoria amazonica

The Amazon water lily (Victoria amazonica (Poepp.) Sowerby, 1850) is a herbaceous species belonging to the Nymphaeaceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Spermatophyta Superdivision,
Division Magnoliophyta,
Class Magnoliopsida,
Subclass Magnoliidae,
Order Nymphaeales,
Family Nymphaeaceae,
Genus Victoria,
Species V. amazonica.
The term is basionym:
– Euryale amazonica Poepp..
The terms are synonymous:
– Anneslea amazonica (Poepp.) C.Presl;
– Anneslea brasiliana (Steud.) C.Presl;
– Euryale brasiliana Steud.;
– Nymphaea nelumbo Vell.;
– Nymphaea regina R.H.Schomb.;
– Nymphaea regina R.H.Schomb. ex Lindl.;
– Nymphaea victoria R.H.Schomb.;
– Nymphaea victoria R.H.Schomb. ex Lindl.;
– Victoria amazonica (Poepp.) Klotzsch;
– Victoria amazonica Planch.;
– Victoria amazonica Planch. ex Casp.;
– Victoria amazonum (Poepp.) Klotzsch;
– Victoria regalis M.R.Schomb.;
– Victoria regia Lindl.;
– Victoria regia var. randii hort.;
– Victoria regia var. randii hort. ex Conard;
– Victoria regia var. regia Lindl.;
– Victoria regina J.E.Gray;
– Victoria regina R.H.Schomb.;
– Victoria reginae Hook..

Etymology –
The term Victoria was dedicated to Queen Victoria (1819-1901) of the United Kingdom.
The specific epithet amazonica comes from the Latin “amazonica”, that is, of the Amazon, due to its area of origin.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Victoria amazonica is a plant native to the shallow waters of the Amazon River basin and present in Bolivia, Brazil and Guyana.
Its habitat is that of the areas on the edges of rivers in low, calm or slow waters.

Description –
Victoria amazonica is a perennial freshwater aquatic and rhizomatous herbaceous plant.
The rhizome is rooted in the bottom sediment.
It has solitary floating leaves, almost circular, 1-2.5 m in diameter, at the end of a flexible spiny petiole, which can reach a length of 8 m, crossed by channels in which air is present to ensure flotation and exchanges gases between leaves and roots.
The leaves are flat, peltate (with the petiole inserted almost in the center of the blade), with the margin raised at a right angle to a height of 5-15 cm, with the exception of two opposite slits for the flow of water; the raised edge prevents them from overlapping, as often happens with water lilies, allowing the leaves to present maximum area for photosynthesis.
Above the leaf is smooth, water-repellent and of an intense green colour, below it is purplish-purple and equipped with prominent and robust ribs, which radiate from the insertion of the petiole, in which there are cavities filled with air, which allow it to float and they remain flat, rigid and capable of supporting a weight of a few dozen kilos, if uniformly distributed; the lower surface of the leaf is provided, even on the external part of the raised edge, with pointed thorns.
The flowers are nocturnal, 20-35 cm in diameter, solitary above the surface of the water, on a thorny peduncle also provided with channels in which air is present, they have 4 brown sepals covered with thorns, 50 and more petals and up to about 200 stamens; the petals are creamy white the first night, pink the second, then they close definitively, bringing the forming fruit to the bottom where it continues ripening, to re-emerge when completely ripe.
The flowers are pollinated by beetles of the Dynastinae subfamily.
The fruits are ovoid, fleshy, indehiscent berries (which do not open spontaneously when ripe), green, globose, covered with thorns, containing a few hundred globose seeds of 7-8 mm in diameter, brown in colour, with aril (cave fleshy which completely or partially envelops the seed) spongy in which there is air which allows them to float, and therefore disperse, until this falls apart, becoming soaked in water, causing them to settle to the bottom.

Cultivation –
Victoria amazonica is a very competitive plant. In fact, it uses its shoots full of thorns, like a nailed club, rotating them on the surface of the water to remove competing plants from it. In addition to this, given its enormous size, it is able to remove sunlight from the underlying plants and the rapid expansion of the leaf (more than 20 centimeters per day) is able to push away and supplant competitors.
This South American water lily has the largest leaves in the world among aquatic species. These leaves are able to float and bear weight thanks to the particular texture of the ribs on the lower page. The leaves therefore act as a support for various species of birds that use them as a platform for fishing, as well as for various reptiles that use them to expose themselves to the sun.
In horticulture, this spectacular species is highly prized, although it is difficult to grow it far from the equator and it grows only in specially equipped greenhouses.
It is a plant suitable for the humid equatorial climate, requiring a water temperature of no less than 22-24 °C. It is cultivated elsewhere, due to its needs and size, almost exclusively in large gardens and botanical gardens, where it always represents one of the main points of attraction, often as an annual, thanks to the speed of growth, in large tanks with high water temperature, around 30 °C, in full sun and frequent and abundant fertilization.
The flowers present the phenomenon of protogyny, the stigma, the female part of the flower, is receptive the first night, while the pollen is released the second night, this prevents self-fertilization and favors crossed fertilization.
The pollinators are beetles, in particular Cyclocephala castanea Olivier (1789), Cyclocephala hardyi Endrödi (1975) and Cyclocephala verticalis Burmeister (1847), attracted by the white color of the petals and by the heat and intense smell, which to many reminds that of pineapple, emitted by the flower at dusk after opening.
The high temperature inside the flower, which can be up to 10°C higher than the ambient temperature, the color of the petals, the smell and the abundant sugary substance present, ensure that the pollinator remains there for a long time. inside the flower, ending up trapped inside when, at the end of the first night, the flower closes again. The day after dusk the stigma is no longer receptive while the mature pollen is released, the flower at this stage is no longer attractive for the pollinator, due to the color of the petals, which have become pink, and the absence of heat and nourishment , and as soon as the flower opens it flies, covered in pollen, towards another flower that has just spread its white petals, pollinating it.
The first night the flower is just pink, with sugary tissues, ready to be devoured by beetles loaded with pollen to then seize them, sated and asleep, when it closes itself in the morning. On the second day the female organ is no longer receptive, the pollen is ripe, and when the flower reopens, releasing the floured beetles.
The plant reproduces almost exclusively by seed, rarely by division, which must be kept constantly humid, or in water, until planting, so as not to lose its germinability. To encourage germination, which occurs in 15-30 days, the seed should be slightly damaged and placed in water at a temperature of 30-32 °C; the young plants are then placed in a heated tank, covered with a thickness of 0.3-1 m of water, in a clayey substrate rich in organic substance, with flowering which can take place after about seven months.

Customs and Traditions –
Victoria amazonica is a plant known by various common names, including: Amazon water-lily, giant water-lily, royal water-lily, Victoria lily (English); Victoria d’Amazonie (French); aguapé-assú, vitória-régia, Forno-d’água, Forno-de-jaçanã, jaçanã, milho-d’água, nanpé, rainha-dos-lagos (Portuguese – Brazil); abatiyú, agoapé, aguapé, hoja de sol, iguapé, irupé, maíz de agua, maruru, ninfa real, plato de agua (Spanish); Amazonas wasserlilie (German).
Victoria regia, as it was called, was described by Tadeáš Haenke in 1801. It was once a subject of rivalry among Victorian gardeners in England. Always on the lookout for a spectacular new species with which to impress their peers, Victorian “gardeners” such as the Duke of Devonshire and the Duke of Northumberland began a race to become the first to grow and flower this enormous lily. Ultimately, the two dukes mentioned above were the first to achieve this, Joseph Paxton (for the Duke of Devonshire) was the first in November 1849 to replicate the lily’s warm boggy habitat (not easy in winter in England with only boilers coal).
The rhizome and seeds, rich in starch, are edible and sometimes consumed by indigenous populations.
The species has captured the public imagination and has been the subject of numerous dedicated monographs. The botanical illustrations of cultivated specimens in the work Victoria Regia by Fitch and W.J. Hooker’s 1851 received critical acclaim in the Athenaeum, “they are accurate and they are beautiful”. “The Duke of Devonshire gave Queen Victoria one of the first of these flowers and named it in her honour. The lily, with its ribbed undersurface and leaf veins “like cross-beams and supports”, “as Paxton’s inspiration for The Crystal Palace, a building four times larger than St. Peter’s in Rome.”
Victoria amazonica is the national flower of Guyana.

Preparation Method –
Victoria amazonica is a plant known in the West above all for its ornamental value and for the various graphic works it has inspired.
The indigenous populations who inhabit the areas surrounding the Amazon River know it for its food value. The rhizome and seeds, rich in starch, are edible and sometimes consumed by these populations.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

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Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and food uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; we therefore decline any responsibility for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.

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