World’s largest water lily discovered

(ORDO NEWS) — The giant water lily at Kew Gardens in London, UK has recently been discovered to be a new species. This is the first discovery of a new species of giant water lily in more than a century.

In the famous genus ‘Victoria’, there are only two other known species of giant water lilies.

The discovery, published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science, was spearheaded by horticulturalist Carlos Magdalena and botanist artist Lucy Smith. Magdalena became convinced that there was a third member of the Victoria genus when he saw photos of the plant online in 2006.

“For nearly two decades, I have scrutinized every photograph of wild Victorian water lilies on the Internet a luxury that a 18th, 19th and most of the 20th century botanist did not have,” Carlos Magdalena stated.

Two specimens, including one at Kew Gardens and one growing at the National Herbarium of Bolivia for the past 34 years, were previously thought to be Victoria amazonica. However, after a lengthy investigation, the team was able to confirm that it was a new species.

The new name of this giant water lily is given in honor of the country where it was found and the Bolivian partners in the project. Victoria Bolivia is found in the aquatic ecosystems of the Llanos de Moxos and is currently the largest species of giant water lily in the world.

The leaves can grow up to 3 meters across, a record currently held by the La Rinconada Gardens in Bolivia, where the leaves of their specimens reach as much as 3.2 meters across.

Botanical artist Lucy Smith shared Magdalen’s suspicions about the water lily during her frequent nightly visits to the greenhouse to illustrate them, as the flowers only open at night. There she realized the unique features and began to describe them in her works.

Natalia Przelomska and Oscar A. Perez-Escobar of Kew conducted an in-depth DNA analysis of V.boliviana and found that it is genetically very different from the two known species. Their results show that V.bolivia is most closely related to V.cruziana.

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