Fragrant Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata)

Fragrant Water Lily

Nymphaea odorata


Fragrant Water Lily
Fragrant Water Lily
  • Easily recognizable aquatic plant that can be found floating on the surface of shallow lakes, ponds and slow moving water
  • Beautiful large symmetrical flower with prominent yellow stamens and many white or occasionally pink petals
  • Flowers are very fragrant and appear from June to September, opening each morning & closing again each night
  • Flowers are surrounded by large (25 cm across) round, smooth waxy leaves that are often purple on the lower surface
  • Leaves are attached to flexible stalks attached to thick fleshy rhizomes
  • Fruit is a capsule 1-2 cm in diameter and contains many seeds
  • Reproduces by both seed and rhizomes
Fragrant Water Lily rhizome
Fragrant Water Lily rhizome

Consequences of invasion

  • Shallow lakes are vulnerable to being completely covered by fragrant water lily. A planted rhizome will cover a 5 m diameter in 5 years. The fast growing aquatic plant can easily create dense infestations choking out native plants.
  • Decreases the value of water front property because it can restrict lake front access if left unmanaged.
  • Reduces water based recreation opportunities.
  • Creates hazardous swimming, it has been attributed to some drowning incidents.

No swimming

Introduction and spread

  • Extremely popular water garden plant due to its beauty and it’s not difficult to grow.
  • The plant can still easily be purchased at nurseries and mail order catalogs.
  • People un-knowingly transplant a water lily to a friend’s property, favorite swimming hole or their own backyard.
  • Pet and aquarium owners dumping/releasing their aquarium plants and animals into the wild.
  • Improper disposal of garden waste.
Don't let it Loose!
Don’t let it Loose!

Status in the CKISS region

  • It has only been found in the Nelson and Lower Arrow Invasive Plant Management Areas of our region.
  • Please report any findings of this species immediately.
  • To learn more about how CKISS classifies and manages invasive species, see our Invasive Species Priority Lists page.

Integrated pest management options


  • Choose non-invasive or native plants for your water garden.
  • Properly dispose of invasive garden waste. RDCK landfills accept invasive plants in clear plastic bags free of charge.
  • Do not transplant fragrant water lily from one location to another.
  • Don’t Let it Loose! Dispose of your aquarium plants in a responsible way.


  • Small infestations may be controlled by covering with a thick dark fabric that blocks out the light.
  • Carbohydrate depletion, as the leaves begin to emerge during growing season faithfully removing all of them. Requires time and patience as it can take 2-3 years to kill the plants.


  • Cutting and harvesting the plant does have some level of success if done several times a year. Removing and proper disposal of the rhizome is the key to success.
  • Excavation can be successful in control of invasive water lilies. Please note that you must complete an “Application for Work in and About a Stream” prior to beginning any excavation work.


  • There are no effective biological control agents available for invasive water lilies.


  • Herbicides cannot be used near or in waterbodies.
The CKISS team using mechanical methods to remove Fragrant Water lily.
The CKISS team using mechanical methods to remove Fragrant Water lily.


Additional resources