New Species and Hybrids for the
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

by Carlos Magdalena - Click images to enlarge
English | Spanish

Nymphaea atrans
Subgenus Anecphya

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.



  N. carpentariae
Subgenus Anecphya

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

N. georginae
Subgenus Anecphya

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 type
Subgenus Anecphya

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 forms.

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. 

N. violacea
Subgenus Anecphya

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 and globose.  

 N. carpentariae x
N. violacea
western type
Subgenus Anecphya

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 I’ve 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 Brachyceras
An Anecphya that is viviparous? Sounds like fun! We’re 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 cross. 

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