Water Lily (shapla) an aquatic plant of the genus Nymphaea which has large, disk-like, floating leaves and showy flowers. There are about 50 species growing in different countries. In Bangladesh there are two species: N. nouchali (blue variety) and N. pubescens (white variety). Both species grow abundantly as a mixed population in almost all shallow natural waterbodies, but the latter is more frequent and popular in Bangladesh and has been designated as the national flower.
Another species, N. rubra, is often cultivated in ponds and tanks as an ornamental plant. Each plant produces several solitary flowers with long peduncles and blooms above the water surface.
It is seen in abundance in the monsoon season. The peduncle is a popular vegetable to villagers; the tuberous rhizomes are also eaten. Seeds on frying are eaten as puffed-grains in some places. The giant water lily or Amazon water lily (Victoria amazonica) is occasionally grown in some gardens for its enormous (about 2m in diametre) orbicular floating leaves. [Mostafa Kamal Pasha]