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!

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.