Limpopo Province >
Map from South Africa Explored

Nymphaea capensis in situ
Near Ellisras, Limpopo Province, South Africa

by Pieter van der Walt
Click images to enlarge

In late April 2008 we came across this little pond (or should I say puddle?) just outside the town of Ellisras. It was filled to the brim with N. capensis, and at its deepest was no more than 20 cm (8") deep. Many plants were growing with their leaves pressed against the mud with no depth of water. The pond, which had a serious snail infestation, would soon dry up and send the lilies into dormancy. There were also a Marselia species and some very nice Schoenoplectus species around the pond. 
 

 

Many of the flowers in this population were larger than we typically
see of N. capensis. One particular flower measured 20 cm (8") across! The two flowers in this photo are from the same plant, illustrating a first and third day flower.


Next to a large river near Ellisras, we found this population of N. capensis. The lilies were growing in between grasses in shallow water probably no more than 50 cm (20") deep. There were also a few N. lotus scattered about between the N. capensis, as well as some Aponogeton junceus in the very shallow water right at the edge. 

I do not know which species this is, but we found them growing in a dammed stream high up in the Waterberge (Water Mountains), also near the town of Ellisras.

 
These plants were growing in deep water from 1 m to 2 m (3.3' to 6.6') deep. They seemed to prefer the deeper water than N. capensis. This population is upstream from the N. capensis growing next to the large river as this is a tributary of that river. There were some plants of Nymphoides indica growing in the deepest section of the river and an aquatic species of Utricularia growing blanketweed-like along the edges. 

Though most of the flowers in the previous photo appeared white, they are actually a very pale blue. They fade to white on the second day and mature to a delicate pink by the third day, with some individuals taking on a much darker shade of pink than others. What is very peculiar about these plants is the colour of the sepals. Most plants have green sepals with black spots, but there were a few with plain green sepals.

 

 

This is probably a fourth day flower as it did not open fully, but note the darker pink colour! I noticed that most of the darker pink plants had plain green sepals, while most of the spotted-sepal plants had very pale pink or plain white flowers on their third and fourth days. This particular plant was extremely difficult to photograph as I had water up to my shoulders!

 

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