New Species and Hybrids for the
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Gallery 2

by Carlos Magdalena - Click images to enlarge
English | Spanish

N. georginae x
N. 'Yasuhiro'

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 N. georginae. 

Interestingly, N. colorata produces different coloured stamens when crossed to the Anecphya species. So far:

N. georginae: bright red
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! 

N. 'Kew's Kabuki'
N. georginae (Subgenus Anecphya)
x N. colorata (Subgenus Brachyceras)

This cultivar was reported and registered 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 ‘Kew’s 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! 


 N. 'Kew's Perfect Stranger'
N. georginae (Subgenus Anecphya)
x Unknown subgenus Brachyceras

Another previously reported and registered 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 performance.


 N. 'Kew's Stowaway Blues'
Subgenus Anecphya 


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 Andre’s 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 too!

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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