Taking centre stage in the pool in the Tropical Wetlands House, this species will produce flower intermittently throughout summer.
Victoria cruziana (Santa Cruz waterlily) is one of only three tropical American aquatic species, bearing large, intricately engineered, buoyant, prickly leaves. V. amazonica is the most familiar of the three, with leaves reaching nearly 3m in diameter, while the leaves of V. cruziana grow up to 1m in diameter. Occurring in the waterways of Brazil and southern South America, V. cruziana is a transgender species, opening on its first night of flowering as a white female, which produces a pineapple scent to lure pollinating scarab beetles. The beetles remain trapped in the flowers until the following night when the flower unfurls as a pink male, releasing the beetle to pollinate other flowers. Flowers will continue to be produced occasionally throughout summer, but this plant is worth seeking out just to admire the extraordinary leaves with their upturned rims, which have a built-in channel and stomatodes (fine perforations) to prevent the leaf sinking.
We have some lovely films about the Victoria cruziana on our YouTube pages. Find out more about its beetle-kidnapping and sex-change antics in this beautiful film from Ryd Cook and Lizzy Hobbs at Spellbound Animation.
One of our former trainees, Emily, talks about growing the Victoria cruziana (Santa cruz water lily).