A new species of giant waterlily, called Victoria Boliviana, has made it to the Guinness World Records. This waterlily species has huge disc-shaped pads that grow up to 3 m (9 ft 10 in) wide – the equivalent of about two snooker cues – in its native wetlands of El Beni in north-east Bolivia, the Guinness site noted. Further, when the lily fully opens, the night-blooming and colour-changing flowers (from white to pink) can span up to 36 cm (1 ft 2 in) wide – about the same as a car’s steering wheel. It can also support the weight of a small child.
Guinness added that that in comparison, the leaves of the other two known members of the Victoria group, V amazonica and V cruziana, are estimated to grow to 2.3 m (7 ft 6.5 in) and 2.4 m (7 ft 10.5 in), respectively.
Giant waterlilies have been part of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdoms’ heritage since the institution opened its doors to the public in the 19th century.
Notably, until now, there have only been two known species of giant waterlily, with the new species being the third one. A study, published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science in July 2022, states that specimens of the new species, Victoria boliviana, have been sitting in Kew’s Herbarium for 177 years and in the National Herbarium of Bolivia for 34 years. During this time, it was commonly believed to be Victoria amazonica.
The discovery was led by a team headed by Kew’s scientific and botanical research horticulturist Carlos Magdalena, freelance Kew botanical artist Lucy Smith, and biodiversity genomics researcher Natalia Przelomska, alongside partners from the National Herbarium of Bolivia, Santa Cruz de La Sierra Botanic Garden and La Rinconada Gardens who confirm it as a new scientific species using novel data and their unique mix of expertise, the study noted.
However, the floating leaves and spiky flowerheads bloom only for a couple of days.
Thrilled by the Guinness recognition for the largest waterlily species on behalf of his country, Bolivia’s Charge d’Affaires to the UK, Juan Carlos Crespo Montalvo, told the site, “The recent scientific discovery of the new species of giant waterlily in Bolivian territory and baptized as Victoria boliviana is a finding of great joy and hope for all peoples. Nature continues to surprise us with new discoveries.”
Guinness World Records’ managing editor Adam Millward, said in a statement, “Giants of nature never fail to capture our audience’s imagination – and who would have thought that a plant as big as Victoria boliviana could have gone under the radar for so long, despite being part of several collections? Thanks to the tireless research efforts of the horticulturalists and scientists at Kew, in collaboration with others in Bolivia, shining a light on this botanical mystery, we can finally give this wondrous waterlily the much-deserved recognition it has long gone without.”
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