The families of flowering plants.                                                                                                                                                                

Nymphaeaceae Salisb.


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IncludingNupharaceae Nak.Excluding Barclayaceae, Cabombaceae, Euryalaceae

Habit and leaf form. Aquatic herbs; laticiferous. Perennial; rhizomatous. Hydrophytic; rooted. Leaves floating. Leaves medium-sized to large; alternate; spiral; petiolate; simple; usually more or less peltate. Lamina entire; usually more or less orbicular; basically palmately veined; cross-venulate; usually cordate. Leaves stipulate (the stipules median-axillary), or exstipulate; without a persistent basal meristem.

General anatomy. Plants with laticifers (articulated). The laticifers in leaves, in stems, in roots, in flowers, and in the fruits. Accumulated starch other than exclusively ‘pteridophyte type’.

Leaf anatomy. Stomata present; anomocytic.

The mesophyll with sclerencymatous idioblasts. Minor leaf veins without phloem transfer cells (Nymphaea). Vessels absent.

Stem anatomy. Primary vascular tissue comprising a ring of bundles, or in scattered bundles. Secondary thickening absent. Xylem presumably with tracheids; without vessels. Sieve-tube plastids S-type. Pith with diaphragms, or without diaphragms.

Root anatomy. Root xylem without vessels.

Reproductive type, pollination. Plants hermaphrodite. Pollination entomophilous.

Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Flowers solitary; large; often fragrant; regular; partially acyclic. The perianth acyclic and the androecium acyclic. Free hypanthium absent.

Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla (e.g. Nymphaea, according to the usual interpretation), or petaline (Nuphar); 5, or 20–50 (‘many’); free. Calyx as commonly interpreted 4, or 5; polysepalous; imbricate. Corolla 5 (Nuphar), or 15–50 (‘many’, showy); polypetalous; imbricate.

Androecium 40–80. Androecial members maturing centripetally; free of the perianth; free of one another; spiralled. Androecium including staminodes (with transition from petals to stamens). Staminodes 11–20 (in the form of nectariferous scales, in Nuphar); external to the fertile stamens; in Nuphar, petaloid. Stamens 40–80; petaloid, or laminar, or filantherous (in sequence). Anthers adnate; non-versatile; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; locule number?; tetrasporangiate. Endothecium developing fibrous thickenings. Anther epidermis persistent. Microsporogenesis simultaneous. The initial microspore tetrads tetrahedral, or isobilateral. Anther wall initially with more than one middle layer. Tapetum glandular. Pollen shed as single grains. Pollen grains aperturate; 1 aperturate; sulcate, or zoniaperturate; 2-celled.

Gynoecium 5–35 carpelled. The pistil 5–35 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; eu-syncarpous; superior to partly inferior. Ovary 5–35 locular. Placentation more or less parietal (or ovules more or less scattered). Ovules 10–100 per locule (i.e. ‘many’); arillate, or non-arillate; orthotropous, or anatropous; bitegmic; crassinucellate. Outer integument not contributing to the micropyle. Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type. Antipodal cells formed; 3; not proliferating; very ephemeral. Synergids pear-shaped. Endosperm formation cellular. Embryogeny asterad.

Fruit fleshy; dehiscent, or indehiscent, or a schizocarp (irregularly so, Nuphar). Mericarps in Nuphar, 5–35 (?). Fruit when non-schizocarpic, a berry; enclosed in the fleshy receptacle. Seeds endospermic. Perisperm present. Cotyledons 1, or 2. Embryo chlorophyllous (2/2); straight.

Seedling.Germination cryptocotylar.

Physiology, biochemistry. Not cyanogenic. Alkaloids present (usually), or absent. Iridoids not detected. Proanthocyanidins present, or absent; cyanidin, or delphinidin. Flavonols present, or absent (Nuphar); in Nymphaea, kaempferol and quercetin, or myricetin. Ellagic acid present (one Nymphaea sample), or absent (Nymphaea capensis, Nuphar lutea). Saponins/sapogenins absent. Aluminium accumulation not found. C3. C3 physiology recorded directly in Nuphar. Anatomy non-C4 type (Brasenia, Nuphar, Nymphaea).

Geography, cytology. Temperate to tropical. Cosmopolitan, except in frigid zones.

Taxonomy.Subclass Dicotyledonae; Crassinucelli. Dahlgren’s Superorder Nymphaeiflorae; Nymphaeales. Cronquist’s Subclass Magnoliidae; Nymphaeales. APG 3 peripheral angiosperms; Superorder Nymphaeanae; Order Nymphaeales.

Species 75. Genera 3; Nymphaea, Nuphar, Ondinea.


  • Technical details: Nymphaea (Lindley).
  • Technical details: Nuphar, Nymphaea.
  • Nymphaea alba (B. Ent.).
  • Nymphaea alba: Eng. Bot. 53, 1863.
  • Nuphar lutea (B. Ent.).
  • Nuphar lutea and N. pumila: Eng. Bot. 54 and 56, 1863.
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