y first glimpse of the Victoria Regia (Victoria amazonica) was at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. I was astounded by the size and grandeur of this plant, the world’s largest water lily. Many cultures in many parts of the world consider water lilies sacred plants, examples being the sacred water lilies of the Nile River (which the Egyptians considered sacred) and the sacred lotus of India. Likewise, here in the Amazon no other plant has inspired more legends than the Victoria Regia. (Please read, “The Legend of the Flower of the Victoria Regia” on page 16 of this issue of the
Similar to my experience at the National Arboretum, the Victoria Regia has captured the imagination of the world since the first glimpse of it by explorers in South America when it was discovered in
1801. Named for Queen Victoria, the plant has enthused horticulturalists worldwide for the size of its leaves and the beauty of its flowers. The large, floating leaves can measure over seven feet in diameter, and its immense white to red colored flowers can reach a diameter of nearly two feet. Floating leaves can sustain weights of up to 60 pounds and support children sitting on them. The entire floating plant can obtain a diameter of almost 50 feet.
Curiously, the flowers are night blooming. Just before opening, the flowers scent the evening air with a pineapple fragrance in anticipation of the blooming of the huge flowers which at first are white. The second night the color of the flowers changes becoming pink to ruby red, depending on the specific plant. Amazon legends say that the Victoria Regia will only fully open her gigantic flowers in all their splendor during a full moon and when the sky is cloudless.
By Dan James Pantone, Editor of