Nymphaea ‘Odorata Luciana’

A nod of thanks to 3Point141@Flickr for sharing today’s image with us via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool (original image). Appreciated once again!

Originally submitted under the name Nymphaea ‘Fabiola’, I was fortunate (or unfortunate, since it’s taken over a couple hours late at night to sort this out) to find an article by San Marcos Growers regarding uncertainty about what is sometimes sold under the name Nymphaea ‘Fabiola’ while researching this entry. It seems that some plants sold in North America as Nymphaea ‘Fabiola’ are actually Nymphaea ‘Odorata Luciana’, so I’ve been bold (perhaps wrongly so) and placed that name on the plant in this photograph. This was based on photographs from the nursery that first published some of these names more than a century ago, and still grows these cultivars today: Latour-Marliac. Using their site search (the text box above rechercher), compare Nymphaea ‘Fabiola’ vs. Nymphaea ‘Odorata Luciana’ (can simply search for “fabiola” and “luciana” to get the results, and yes, there is an English language version of the site but it doesn’t contain some of the descriptive information). At a glance, it seems to me: the tepals of Nymphaea ‘Odorata Luciana’ have a higher length-to-width ratio than ‘Fabiola’; the tepals of ‘Fabiola’ are generally held upright, whereas the outer (sepaloid) tepals of ‘Odorata Luciana’ flare out and are horizontal; and a central near-column of innermost tepals surround and somewhat enclose the inner flower parts in ‘Odorata Luciana’, while in Nymphaea ‘Fabiola’ the inner flower parts are exposed and open. Also, the original catalogue description of Nymphaea ‘Fabiola’ makes mention of the tepals being “washed of white at the top”.

To make things more complicated, the cultivar name ‘Odorata Luciana’ also seems to be sometimes abbreviated to simply ‘Luciana’, though this is recognized as a synonym and not valid as such by the rules governing the nomenclature of cultivated plants.

The RHS Plantfinder lists approximately 400 taxa and cultivars of Nymphaea, and I suspect the number is quite a bit higher. Bearing that it is difficult to keep cultivars straight without the use of a documented reference collection, I’ll point out a few other web sites featuring these plants (and where errors may have perhaps crept in). The North Carolina State University’s Plant Factsheets has a profile on Nymphaea ‘Odorata Luciana’, with cultivation information (they use the abbreviated ‘Luciana’, but I think that’s the only nit). Longwood Gardens Plant Explorer has a profile on Nymphaea ‘Odorata Luciana’, but the photograph looks similar (though not exactly like) the true Nymphaea ‘Fabiola’. More photographs would be useful. Lastly, Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a feature on the Water-Lilies at BBG. It seems to me that some of the plants tagged as Nymphaea ‘Luciana’ are possibly Nymphaea ‘Fabiola’ (one in particular seems to display being “washed of white at the top” of some of the tepals), and perhaps the same could be said in reverse for the plant tagged Nymphaea ‘Fabiola’. That said, while the two cultivars on the Latour-Marliac site seem distinctly different, the photographs of the plants at Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Longwood Gardens seem to be intermediate to those images in some respects. Having no expertise with Nymphaea cultivars (I’m not sure we even grow any species or cultivars at UBC Botanical Garden), I could be entirely wrong and perhaps should have gone to bed hours ago.

Nymphaea 'Odorata Luciana'

10 responses to “Nymphaea ‘Odorata Luciana’”

  1. Owen

    Ha! A lovely post! Thank you!
    Now go to bed! 🙂

  2. Ian Crown

    Used this site for years. It may not answer any questions raised by this post but as a site for color photos of a hobby of mine for decades (only tropicals) you can not go wrong. Trying to overwinter water lilies in an already jammed basement? Then you could go wrong.

  3. Sue Vargas

    Your web searching is the tale of my work life as I search for images for plant labels for a living. So often in-depth research is necessary for accurate naming.
    Ian Crown gives an excellent site to use and I have earmarked it for future photo info. Thanks so much, Ian!

  4. J Civille

    What a beautiful photograph, Nymphaea flowers are truly spectacular. Unfortunately, many of these cultivars have escaped from yards and parks into the shallow lakes of Western Washington, where they are running rampant. This species is on the noxious weed list for Thurston County (and Washington State), as it out-competes our native littoral and wetland plants, producing massive rhizome mats several feet thick, and depleting O2 levels below their floating leaves (pads). Please don’t introduce this into your natural lake systems. http://www.nwcb.wa.gov/detail.asp?weed=97
    Thank you so much for your wonderful site, it’s a highlight of my working day.

  5. Robyn

    Interesting! Here is a photo of what I bought as a Fabiola lily in my pond a few years ago:

  6. elizabeth a airhart

    excuse but do really expect the rest of us to belive that you
    were late going home and to bed becuse you were trying
    to label a water lily correctly till all hours really i mean just really
    links are fine photo is lovely next time call

  7. Knox Henry

    Thanks for staying up late to complete this article. Most interesting and worthwhile reading.

  8. James Singer

    Seems to me it would have improved the write to mention the plant was a water lily. Not all of us were born knowing that.

  9. Daniel Mosquin

    James, you’re right that I should have mentioned that. It’s not often the common name is neglected. However, there was probably a bit more generous way of stating your observation.
    Elizabeth, I’ve been on the road for most of the past couple weeks. Entries are being done from hotel rooms.
    Robyn, I’d be skeptical about that being ‘Fabiola’, though Ian’s link makes me a bit less certain about any conclusions I might have made.

  10. Cindy

    I appreciate your self-sacrificing spirit and enjoy your comments very much thank you

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