Australian Native Waterlilies
Near Cooktown, Queensland

by Nan Bailey
Click images to enlarge

We drove from our home in Kuranda up to Cooktown at the end of the wet season, stopping to photograph plants along the way. All the billabongs were full, so there were waterlilies in a lot of places.

This Nymphaea immutabilis is almost white, with just the hint of purple on the outer edges and at the bases of the outer petals. On this one, the purple ages to pink.

In this wetland area near Cooktown, I found N. violacea. The green in the foreground and up the right is Marsilea, probably M. drummondii. It was growing in water from a few centimeters deep up to at least 60 cm (2 feet), though I have seen it grow deeper than that. I only waded out that deep, to where I could reach the closest lily, as this is crocodile country!

N. violacea was fairly plentiful and a beautiful rich violet colour. The ones around us in Kuranda are more pale blue. These were growing at the edge of the deep water and in amongst the grass and Marsilea. This shallow area will be completely dry by the end of the dry season, and the tubers and seeds will stay dormant until the wet season's monsoonal rains.  

This N. violacea was growing right near the road, where the water level had been high but had dropped to about 10 cm (4 inches) deep. It was madly flowering even though the leaves had started to crisp around the edges. Once the water dried up, it would go dormant until the summer monsoons.



Here is a patch of the beautiful Monochoria australasica. These are annuals related to water hyacinth but grow rooted in the mud. 

What an incredible deep blue flower! I just HAD to stop and climb down the bank to photograph it. The common one is a paler lavender blue.

Profile - Nan Bailey
See Nan's Cover Story on Australian Natives in
WGI ONLINE Journal Volume 2, Number 1

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