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A photo from the Botanical Garden of Helsinki, from the water lily house. The leaf of the Giant Water lily can grow to two metres in diameter and is capable of supporting the weight of a fully grown person.

The water lily

Victoria is a genus of water lilies, in the plant family Nymphaeaceae, with very large leaves that float on the water's surface. The most well known and largest has a leaf that is up to 3 m in diameter, on a stalk 7–8 m in length. The genus name was given in honour of Victoria of the United Kingdom.
Victoria amazonica is native to the shallow waters of the Amazon River basin, such as oxbow lakes and bayous. It is depicted in the Guyanese coat of arms. The flowers are white the first night they are open and become pink the second night. They are up to 40 cm in diameter, and are pollinated by scarab beetles.
Another species, Victoria cruziana, in the Parana-Paraguay basin which is only slightly smaller, with the underside of the leaves purple rather than the red of V. amazonica, and covered with a peachlike fuzz lacking in V. amazonica. V. cruziana opens its flowers at dusk.
The first published description of the genus was by John Lindley in 1837, based on specimens returned from British Guiana by Robert Schomburgk. Lindley named the genus after the new Queen, Victoria, and the species Victoria regia. An earlier account of the species, Euryale amazonica Poeppig, in 1832 described an affinity with Euryale ferox. A collection and description was also made by the French botanist Aimé Bonpland in 1825.

The Botanical Gardens

The University of Helsinki Botanical Garden at Kaisaniemi is one of Helsinki's most popular visitor attractions. The Garden is situated very close to the city centre, and its glasshouses and surrounding grounds offer nature lovers a unique experience all year round. The gallery between the large and small glasshouses is used to host temporary exhibitions, mostly on themes related to nature.

The peace and quiet of the Botanic Garden in Kaisaniemi can be reached either from the busy Unioninkatu street or from the adjoining Kaisaniemenranta road. In summertime, perhaps the most attractive part of the grounds is the central garden, an open area with ponds and flowers, bordered by the glasshouses and rose bushes. The well-established trees in the outer parts of the grounds provide welcome shade in the summer heat, a pleasant place to sit and read, to enjoy a picnic or to listen to the birds. Squirrels, hedgehogs, hares, and colourful butterflies can also be seen in the grounds. (Source: Finnish Museum of Natural history, University of Helsinki & wikipedia)

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Viewed: 1982
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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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