Pitcher Plant Family
Water Lily Family
Water Plantian Family
Read More Articles About: Wildflower Families
Water Lily Family
( Originally Published 1908 )
The Water Lily family may certainly claim to be the most beautiful group of aquatic wild flow-ers. All the members of this family are perennial herbs which are especially characterized by long, horizontal root-stocks living on or in water. The flowers have three to five sepals and five to many petals and stamens. The familiar Water Lilies of our lakes and ponds are typical illustrations of this interesting group.
WATER LILIES. It is not strange that the glorious beauty of the Water Lily has long proved a source of joy and inspiration to imaginative peoples. In various species this flower is widely distributed over the world, the Lotus of Egypt and the Orient being one sort while the Victoria Regia of the tropics is another. In our own country the white and pink varieties, though smaller than these exotic forms, are almost equally beautiful and furnish a delightful decoration to many a pond and pool. " Opening during the middle of the day they reflect from their spotless and glowing petals the glory of the sunshine.
If the leaves of one of the white Water Lilies are purple on the under side it is the Sweet- scented Water Lily, which has also a pink-flowered variety along the Atlantic Coast. If the leaves are green on both sides it is the Tuberous White Water Lily.
The structure of these wonderful blossoms is worth a few moments' study because they show so well the transition from stamens to petals. Botanists have frequently called attention to the modern belief that the floral envelopes—the sepals and the petals—have been developed through the modification of the stamens. In these little flow-ers we can see all stages of the process. The stamens are arranged in large circles around the centre of the blossom. Those of the inner whorl are normal in form, with perfectly developed filaments and anthers, and in the outer whorls many of the filaments are wider and flatter than the normal ones, while many of the anthers are abortive. From this beginning of the transition one can generally find in a single blossom all the stages to the perfect petal : on succeeding stamens the filament becomes wider and wider, the color becomes lighter and lighter, the anthers become smaller and smaller, until we see but the merest rudiment of an anther on one side of the petal.
Similar studies of petaloid stamens can be made in the case of many other flowers. The white blossoms of the common Syringa bush furnish excellent examples of it, and in very many of the double cultivated flowers the transition can be seen. In these double flowers additional petals are developed through the modification of the stamens.