New Species and Hybrids for the
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
by Carlos Magdalena - Click images
English | Spanish
This is the result of a wild seed collection
from Low Lake in Australia. Despite the seeds coming from what
appeared to be a changeable form of N. atrans, this seedling
(the only one brought to flowering size so far) doesn't change
its colour at all during its flowering cycle.
Apparently, what seems to be growing at Low Lake
is a hybrid of N. atrans x N. immutabilis. In this
population just a few specimens change colour and the ones that
do change don't come true from seed. Quite disappointing but
still a very impressive specimen.
A few forms have been raised from seed at
RBG Kew from material donated by Dr. Barre Hellquist. This species
is very difficult to germinate as seeds seem to have a dormancy,
the mechanism of which is not widely understood yet. In a trial
I have germinated several seeds under anaerobic circumstances
so perhaps this is one of the parametres that triggers germination.
Seeds left on their own have taken up to two years to germinate
at Kew and Andre Leu had reported seeds germinating after eight
years! Andre has recently donated a very precious selection of
intense coloured forms. N. carpentariae will be displayed
next year at Kew for everybody to enjoy.
This species also is proving a very good parent
for Anecphya and intersubgeneric hybrids. A selection of N.
carpentariae is the very vivid red that you can see in the
photo at the right. This will be named at RBG Kew (but developed
by Andre Leu) after Julia Leu. I'm realy impressed at the intensity
and depth of colour of this particular form which is the product
of selections made by Andre over several years to provide a plant
more reliable in habit and more intense in colour. I'm very happy
to confirm that he has achieved that.
N. 'Julia Leu'
Selection of N. carpentariae
Photo by Andre Leu
This is a very interesting species. It produces
very large plants that have leaves very similar in shape to the
night bloomers in the subgenus Lotos. It is extremely
variable in colour and each seedling has grown to be different,
white, blue, pink and blue.
This is the most starry shaped of
all the Anecphyas I have ever seen as the petals are very
narrow and long. The flowers are very interesting: they will
close the first day but then, after opening the second morning, they
will never close again (not at all!). It seems to cross with
a wide range of species in the subgenus Brachyceras and
has already produced some impressive hybrids. Seeds are totally
different as they are almost perfectly spherical and very large;
so are the fruits. It seems to be very reliable in cultivation
and this species will be on display at RBG Kew very soon.
N. violacea globe
This is a taxon that may be separated and
named as a new species. It grows in northwest Australia. It is
very variable in colour when grown from seed and very beautiful
in any of its forms. Not particularly large, it should be ideal
for small ponds. So far it's very reliable in cultivation.
Are Australian lilies very prone to go dormant
and set a tuber???? Well, this one doesn't and it doesn't to
the extent that it compromises its propagation. It may form a
tuber if grown from seed and pricked out into a tiny pot, and
even so it may keep going. Once it starts flowering it never
goes dormant. Seed germinates very well for me. Blooms have to
be pollinated, which is great; and seedlings, while being minute,
develop easily in RBG Kew's growing conditions. From a single
seed batch donated by Barre Hellquist, I have white, white with
blue tips, white with pink tips, pale blue, pale pink, and mauve
This is one of my favourite Aussies. It is
another excellent parent plant as it tends to produce cup shaped
hybrids, of intermediate size, of variable colour, setting plenty
of seeds that germinate easy. The downside is that the hybrids
are like the parent in that they are difficult to send dormant
(an advantage for display but a disadvantage to select and propagate
a particular form).
This and other forms of N. violacea may
be split into different species. DNA research shows several differences
in the clade, but the presence of incongruities, complex hybrids
and morphological variability makes the description of these
species extremely complex.
This is a quite different form: it produces much
larger plants; the blooms are highly and beautifully scented;
it is more star shaped (however still cup shaped); and it is
less variable in colour. It is self-pollinating (a downside as
a display plant) and it has darker and smaller seeds than the
western form. It is more difficult to cross to Brachyceras
species and hybrids. It does cross to other species in the subgenus
Anecphya, but the seeds are difficult to germinate when
it is used as pod parent. It does set tubers, those being huge
N. carpentariae x
N. violacea western type
This is a very promising hybrid for several
reasons. First, it is extremely variable, producing plants in
blue, mauve, white, pink and even pink with blue tips. They come
in different flowering habits, such as extremely long peduncles
or very short, barely above the water. The flowers are intermediate
in shape and very reliable; once a plant starts blooming Ive
never had one stop growing and go dormant. However, if potted
in a small pot it will tuber so it can be propagated. I think
it has the right size for pot culture, much smaller than a standard
Anecphya, but not minute either and with the whole Anecphya
allure. I'm in the process of selecting some forms to be named.
N. immutabilis x N. micrantha
Subgenus Anecphya x Subgenus
An Anecphya that is viviparous? Sounds
like fun! Were not yet there, I'm afraid. This is my first
intersubgeneric cross involving N. micrantha. It didn't
make any viviparous pups on the leaves at all. However, this
plant seems to be the most "Brachyceras looking"
of the many intersubgenerics that have Anecphya as the
pod parent. In all the previous hybrids I have done (or seen
from other hybridizers), the flowers shape has always remained
very much like a standard Anecphya plant.
As you can see in the pictures here, there is
a big influence of the micrantha parent on the petal shape.
It also has sepals like its African parent: specks on the outer
sepals and pink in the inner sides. It is quite small, not likely
to make a tuber, and also every single bloom made a fruit and
set seed without being pollinated, so does it have cleistogamous
flowers? Great? Not so much. Fruits slow down frequency of blooming
and the size and heath of the plant. Plus ALL the seed seemed
to be non-viable so no
hope of getting an F2 generation containing viviparous Anecphya-like
offspring. When it first bloomed for us, it had an incredible
amount of buds developing at once ... then after being loaded
with fruits the plant got weaker. If the spent flowers are cut
off soon it may produce a very free flowering plant, However,
it is difficult to propagate, high maintenance and Brachyceras
style???? Not much of a point, in my opinion, as there
should be plenty of starry lilies out there that would be easier
and more showy, (Still beautiful but ... they all are, aren't
they?!). I have micrantha crosses with other subgenus
Anecphya species and fruits are developing from the reverse
I'm more than happy to report what seems to be
the first plant that has an intersubgeneric hybrid as one of
its parents. Kit Knotts reported several years ago that 'Yashusiro'
had set seed when self-pollinated and when crossed with N.
ampla; however seeds failed to germinate. I used the species
N. georginae. This resulted in several seeds identical
in size and shape to N. georginae, but, as you can see,
growing into plants quite different in colour and shape from
Interestingly, N. colorata produces
different coloured stamens when crossed to the Anecphya species.
N. carpentaria from north of Normanton: bright red
N. carpentaria from south of Normanton: orange
N. immutabilis: purple
N. violacea western form: purple
N. gigantea: orange
As seen below in 'Kew's Kabuki', N. georginae
x N. colorata produces bright red anthers, but if N.
georginae is back-crossed with pollen of N. 'Yasuhiro'
(N. gigantea x N. colorata) it produces orange.
Thus I assume that stamen colour is mainly passed through the
pollen parent or so far this is what I have seen. This hybrid
seems to be larger than 'Yashusiro' but smaller than 'Kew's Kabuki'
and N. georginae. Several plants are in cultivation at
present. I hope that it will produce more fertile plants (but
I've not tried yet!) so that intersubgeneric F2's can be selected.
N. carpentariae x N. colorata
Subgenus Anecphya x Subgenus Brachyceras
As you can see, another colour infusion on the
stamens by using pollen of Nymphaea colorata on a subgenus
Anecphya stigma. This time it is a beautiful orange/pink
salmon like soft tone rather than the vivid red of
N. 'Kew's Kabuki' or N. 'William Phillips'. The
N. carpentariae used as pod parent is a different form
than the N. 'Andre Leu' used for developing N.
'William Philips' in both colour (white) and population provenance.
Still a beautiful plant and will it be fertile? We are still
trying to find out, as this a very recent arrival!
It seems to be a large and reliable plant though!
N. violacea western type x N. colorata
Subgenus Anecphya x Subgenus Brachyceras
Another example of what does colorata
for you ... this time the stamens have gone purple. This is a
beautiful plant. Small size and very neat cup and globose blooms.
The stamen colour and arrangement of them makes this bloom --
in my opinion -- a true beauty. It has an inner pastel yellow
tone that gives it a little bit of inner glow. This, together
with the whiter sepals and the fine veining of the outer petals
and sepals, creates a very soft and subtle bloom. Will it be
easy to tuber? Not sure yet. Is it easy to grow? Yes indeed.
Worth naming? At least to be considered, that's for sure!
x N. colorata (Subgenus Brachyceras)
This cultivar was reported
last year but it hadn't been tried as a display plant at RBG
Kew. Now it has and it has lived up to expectations, to say the
least. Very prolific bloomer, invariably opening every two to
three days, lasting up to five days, occasionally opening two
blooms at once, and guess what? Blooms look first day
for two days. In the second day a few anthers go to the outer
sides and shed pollen; there is still an opening or gap to the
stigmatic disk. Quite large in spread, similar to N. immutabilis
and N. gigantea but less sprawling, and blooms of +20cm
(+8) in diameter at peak season. As I write, November is
here and Kews Kabuki keeps rocking, while all
the Brachyceras hybrids (apart of those containing N.
ampla in the parentage such as 'Foxfire' and 'Carlos Magdalena')
have gone flowerless and somehow semi-dormant. This is a really
interesting plant and one that should be distributed for everyone
to enjoy for years to come!
x Unknown subgenus Brachyceras
Another previously reported
plant but untested on display until this summer. Am I carried
away with my babies??? Well, maybe, but I doubt it.
Reason being, one tuber containing one crown was placed in a
pot at the same size as any other plant in the Waterlily House.
Then ... one day you walk in and go 1,2,3,4,5, 9... nine? nine
blooms? ... this, I thought was quite prolific .... all of it
in a plant that has around 20cm (8) wide pads, often smaller,
especially in late in the season. Then you wait for a couple
of weeks and the bloom count goes up to 13 blooms all at once!
When you compare it to all the other hybrids in the house and
you realize that it has double, triple or quadruple the number
of blooms of any other variety but has half the spread, the wonderful
sentence, That's what we want, that's what we need!
glides into your mind. Another intersubgeneric plant that has
beaten most of the Brachyceras hybrids in late season
Andre Leu sent to Kew a selection of tubers
from Australia. One of the tubers started to produce four plants
at once and all of them were detached. One of them was potted
up to bloom, the others were left to tuber. And then the tuber
produced two more plantlets, both of them also detached. I thought
... this is a very prolific Aussie! While the tubers started
to produce more plants, the potted up plant produced a bloom.
To our surprise it wasn't the white species it was supposed to
be but was a dark blue/mauve! We had a volunteer plant stowaway
all the way from Australia.
I determined possible parents, as every trait
matched one or the other, contacted Andre back, and then realized
... a seed escaped from one of Andre's crosses, floated away
free, and landed in a pot where a species was growing. It sneaked
up a few leaves, went dormant, set a tuber and hid there without
being, noticed. When Andre emptied the pot, he sent the tubers,
one of then being the weed.
It soon became apparent to me that this was
a very good performer. It propagated fast and prolifically; it
outgrew any other Aussie in the tank; it makes fantastic blooms
of an intense colour and doesn't want to go dormant. I sent it
to the displays and soon it overtook all the other plants despite
being placed there mid-season. During Andres visit to Kew
in the summer, we agreed that it was worth naming. If you wonder
why, here are some reasons.
With a spread of 4.5 metres (15), pads of +70cm (+28),
peduncles that raise the flowers above the water +60cm (24)
and blooms that are +20cm (8) of a dark blue mauve, it
isn't a surprise that it commands every visitor's attention.
Occasionally there is a tumult of people around it and I have
seen more than four cameras being fired at it at once like if
it was a celebrity. It is a very reliable one, looking absolutely
tireless! It is largest on show, and its performance, unlike
the British sun, hasn't decreased at all at the beginning of
November. It is even challenging the Victoria for pad
size and, for the first time ever, visitors point fingers at
a Nymphaea before noticing that, oh yes, there is a Victoria
This plant also has time for subtlety: at
the center of the stigmatic disk it has a very dark brown freckle
that adds to the amazing beauty of its bloom. Too big for your
pond? (I can hear some of you!!! ... ) Well, good news. I had
another plant in a half liter (half quart) pot. I gave it a food
bomb in May ... that's all. Pads are 12cm (5); spread is
50cm (20); it blooms continuously; bloom size is 7cm (3).
Any doubts this should be named? What else we can ask for? Different
colours? We are on the case, we are on the case ...
Special thanks to Andre Leu and Barre Hellquist
for providing plant material and their expertise, helping make
these new varieties possible at RBG Kew.
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