Nymphaea nouchali

Nymphaea nouchali




Nymphaea stellata Willd.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Kelipok, teratai kechil.
English Water lily, lotus lily.
Indonesia Tunjung.
Philippines Lauas, pulau (Tagalog), talailo (Bisaya).
Cambodia Rum' chang, pralit, mum phlong.
Laos Hua bua, bwà khiiz bèèz, bauna neai.
Thailand Bua-phan, bua khaap (Central), nirobon (Bangkok).
Vietnam S[us]ng lam, b[oo]ng s[us]ng, c[ur] s[us]ng.
French Nénuphar bleu.

Geographical Distributions

N. nouchali is distributed from Africa to India and throughout South-East Asia to Australia, both wild and cultivated.


This perennial, aquatic plant comes with cone-like tuberous rhizome.

Leaves are simple, egg-shaped orbicular and sized at 10-30 cm x 8-25 cm. The blade is narrowly peltate with entire, sinuate, dentate or lobulate margins. The upper side of the leaf is green and smooth while the lower side is green, red, purple or spotted purple. Most are hairless, or sometimes finely haired. Veins are palmate. Its petiole is long and stipules are present.

Flowers are solitary, 8-18 cm in diametre and held 5-20 cm above the water. Pedicel is up to 1.5 m long, reddish and spongy. There are 4 sepals  adnated at base to base of the receptacle. Its inside bears the same colour as its petal. There are between 10-35 petals, many are seriated, with its inner part diminishing in size. The slightly fragrant flower is normally blue, but it can also be white, purplish blue or pink. Stamens are numerous with broad petaloid filaments on the outer part. Its receptacle has a cup-shaped apex with carpels between 10-16, immersed and forming a numerous-celled syncarpous ovary. Its radiating stigmas are yellow in colour.

The berry-like and spongy fruit is a depressed globose syncarp, 2-4 cm in diametre.The fruit ripens under water, irregularly dehiscent and has numerous seeds.

The greyish-white seed is narrowly ovoid, 1-1.5 mm long, with longitudinal ridges. Its floating habit is due to air-containing sack-like, pulpy aril with perisperm. Its seedling has one cotyledon.

Ecology / Cultivation

N. nouchali is common throughout its distribution area, and is also found in shallow ponds, ditches and lakes up to 500 m altitude.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2.