'Primlarp' and Primlarp

Review of the
Waterlily in Thailand

Text and images by
Sqn. Ldr. Primlarp Wasuwat Chukiatman
Edited by Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat

Click images to enlarge

I work with my father Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat as a gardener, waterlily data collector and assistant in research projects at our house Pang U Bon (which in Thai means House of Waterlily). Dr. Slearmlarp started to collect and study waterlilies and lotus in 1969. We share the information we have with and support other institutes, universities and hobbyists. For that reason I know many people who are interested in waterlilies.

Nymphaea 'Dao Thammanoon', Dr. Slearmlarp hybrid >


Pang U Bon
Thailand is a watershed country. There is plenty of wet land with natural growths of lotus and waterlilies. Local Thais harvest lotus flowers for religious worship, lotus seed and waterlily peduncle for food. The geology and weather of Thailand support all year growing of waterlilies. Plant growers and breeders can work whenver they like. Most of them still do not know much about the plants and how to cultivate them properly. There are only a few Thai water plant technologists and they have not had a chance to extend their know-how to the planters. Some planters, farmers and dealers sell tropical day-blooming waterlily seedlings by the name of real cultivars because they do not know the seedlings are not true to type.   

Native waterlilies

Native waterlilies

Native lotus

N. 'Graziella'
The history of waterlilies in Thailand began with native plants in the water areas around the country. About 100 years ago a few people who went abroad imported some varieties of waterlily to decorate their place or government area. For example H.H. Princess Saisavalibhiromya Suthasininart imported the tropical day blooming waterlily Nymphaea capensis var. zanzibariensis from Indonesia and named it “suthasinobon” in Thailand. In 1892 Praya Pradhipatpuban ordered seeds of Victoria amazonica to grow. Now it is called "bua kradong" in Thai. After that dealers imported other waterlilies to sell, such as “chompoo celon”, the pink tropical night blooming waterlily from Sri Lanka. Hardy waterlilies named in Thai include “champa-ha-see” for N. ’Commanche’, sadd krae’ for N. ’Graziella' and “tubtim siam' for N. ’Ellisiana'.  

The few articles on taxonomy of waterlilies and lotus go back to the year 1940. A book named “The Ornamental Plant of Thailand” was written by Praya VinitVanandorn. The next article from the Natural Bulletin of Siam Society, Volume 17, December 1958, named “On the Nymphaeaceae of Thailand” was written by Professor Kasin Suwattapan. 

In 1969, Dr. Slearmlarp imported many varieties of hardy and tropical day and night blooming waterlily cultivars for trials in Thailand at Pang U Bon 1*. He hybridized those day blooming tropicals that survived.

The first two hybrids that he obtained from N. ‘Trail Blazer’ x N. ’Mr. Martin E. Randig’ were N. ’Praow’ (or N. ’Praw’) and N. ’Ply’ in 1978. These were followed by the famous open pollinated N. ’Larp Prasert’ in 1980, N.’Primlarp’, an open pollinated seedling from night blooming N. ’Mrs. George C. Hitchcock’ in 1984, the first viviparous red pygmy N. ’Dang Jiew’ from N. ’Tina’ as mother in 1985, tropical day blooming N. ’Thongsook’ in 1988 and N. ’Gulyanee’ from a self-pollination of N. ’Trail Blazer’ in 1990.  

Next came tropical day blooming N. ’Garnjanathep’ from the self-pollination of N. ’Green Smoke’ in 1992, N. ’Royal Red’ from self-pollination of tropical day blooming N. ’Dang Kasartra’ in 1994, tropical night blooming N. ’Piyalarp’ in 1998, tropical day blooming N. ’Swangjitra‘ in 2003, tropical night blooming N. ’Prawnapa’ from a pool open pollinated cultivar in 2007. From 1969 until this day Dr. Slearmlarp has introduced over 45 cultivars at Pang U Bon. Hybridization and selection continues. Now at Pang U Bon there are collections of 112 hardy waterlilies, 142 tropical day bloomers, 31 tropical night bloomers, 60 Thai lotus and Victoria amazonica.

Dr. Slearmlarp wrote his first book “Culture of Ornamental Nymphaea in Thailand” in 1982. The book was endorsed and honored by the Thai Scientific Book Authority as one of the best 100 scientific books during the period 1978-1987. It was the first book in Thai describing the history of ornamental Nymphaea in Thailand. It includes the taxonomy and botanical description of the plant, introducing and describing over 50 Nymphaea cultivars that can grow in the country.    

N. 'Chompoo Nix', Mr. Roengsak hybrid 

With close cooperation among waterlily lovers, new waterlily hybrids were developed and released. The famous N. ’Mangkala Ubol’, bred by Dr. N. Nopchai Chansipa from Bangphra Technology University at Chonburi Province, won IWGS‘s Best New Hardy Waterlily of 2004. Other of Dr. Nopchai’s hardy hybrids released after 1998 are N. ’Chao Sao Natee’, N. ’Sri Bangpra’ and many more.

The well-known N. ’King of Siam’, a very popular tropical day blooming hybrid developed by Mr.Chaiyapon Tamasuwan in 1996, still attracts great demand in the USA. His other hybrids N. ’Sriwichai’ and N. ’Love on Fire’ won the third and the first best new tropical day blooming waterlily in the contest at the Thai-IWGS Symposium 2007 at Rama IX Public Park in Bangkok.

The most famous hardy waterlily hybridizer from Thailand is Mr. Pairat Songpanich. His hardy hybrids won the IWGS Best New Hardy Waterlily contest almost every year since 2006. His winning hardies were: N. ’Tan-Khwan’ in 2006, N. ’Miss Siam’ in 2007, N. ’Tanpong’ at Thai-IWGS Symposium 2007.

Lately he has been able to develop the first blue hardy waterlily, the most desirable lily awaited for more than hundred years by waterlily fanatics all over the world. He named this wonderful hybrid N. ’Siam Blue Hardy’ in 2008. The Plant Breeding and Multiplication Society of Thailand gave the Best Plant Breeder Award to him in December 2008.  

N. 'Siam Blue Hardy' >

 Overview of the economic value of waterlilies and lotus in Thailand.

1. Lotus product earning groups are separated into two categories.

1.1 Those who harvest flowers, seeds and roots of lotus from natural public wetlands around the country.

1.2 Planters who cultivate the lotus and collect its products for the wholesale market in urban areas near big cities such as Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Nakornpathom and PathumTani. 

2. The ornamental waterlily growers for selling in Thailand are in two groups.

2.1 Producers of mixed unknown tropical waterlily cultivars and the easy cultivars of hardy waterlilies. They are located near main cities such as Nonthaburi and Supanburi.

2.2 The professional group selling known cultivars from tuber, rhizome, shoot or sprout. Selling places of this group are their own nurseries or private houses of well known technicians, teachers and collectors.

3. The exporters who collect propagated materials from group 1 or 2 in large quantities and export to other countries.

Thailand can contribute to waterlily development in many ways such as hybrid technology, pre- and post-harvest technology, molecular and gene transfer technology.

Retail shop

Waterlilies packaged for sale

Waterlily products

Some Thai waterlilies and originators.

Tropical day blooming

‘Praow‘or ‘Praw’
Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat/1978

Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat/1978

Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat/1979

‘Larp Prasert‘
Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat/1980

‘Khao Thamanoon 1‘
Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat/1981

‘Dang Jiew‘
Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat/1985

‘Dang Kasartra‘
Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat /1988

‘Lueang Thong‘
Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat /1988

Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat /1990

‘Dang Thamanoon‘
Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat /1991

Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat /1992

‘Royal Red‘
Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat /1994

'King of Siam’
or ‘Chalongkhwan‘
Mr. Chaiyapon Tamasuwan/1998

Mr. Chaiyapon Tamasuwan/1998

‘Dao Fah‘
Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat /1999

Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat /2003

Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat /2004

Mr. Chaiyapon Tamasuwan/2007

Tropical night-blooming waterlilies 

N. rubra
Native waterlily

Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat /1984

Dr. Slearmlarp Wasuwat /1998

Mr. Teanchai Teandejsakul /2000  

‘Napa Pen‘
Mr. Teanchai Teandejsakul /2007

‘Rojana Ubol‘
Mr. Pairat Songoanich/2006

Hardy waterlilies

‘Mangkala Ubol‘
Dr. N. Nopchai Chansipa/1996

‘Chao Sao Natee‘
Dr. N. Nopchai Chansipa

‘Roeng Arun‘
Mr. Roengsak Klinpayom/1999 

'Tan-khwan ‘
Mr. Pairat Songoanich/2006 

‘Miss Siam‘
Mr. Pairat Songoanich/2007 

‘Tanpong ‘
Mr. Pairat Songoanich/2007 

* Pang U Bon 1 was the house where Dr.Slearmlarp lived from 1969 to 1977 before moving to the present Pang U Bon.

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