World rarest and smallest Waterlily world record 2010 - Nymphaea Thermarum

The world rarest and smallest waterlily "nymphaea thermarum" is seen at Kew Gardens in London, Wednesday, May, 19, 2010. It's a big victory for a little lily, according to horticulturists at the Royal Botanic Garden, in Kew, who announce that they have germinated seeds held in their seed bank, to save the the rare African waterlilly from extinction. The lily was found in just one location in Rwanda, and then disappeared completely about two years ago, so Kew scientists were able to germinated seeds at Kew in conjunction with German scientists, and there are now more than 30 baby waterlilies.

This ‘thermal’ waterlily, which grew around freshwater hot springs, was discovered in 1987 by German botanist Professor Eberhard Fischer of Koblenz-Landau University. It is known from just one location in Mashyuza, in southwest Rwanda. However, it disappeared from there about two years ago due to over-exploitation of the hot spring that fed this fragile habitat. Water was prevented from reaching the surface, resulting in the desiccation of the few square metres where this species grew, and no plant is known to have survived in the wild.

Before becoming extinct in the wild, Nymphaea thermarum occurred in Mashyuza, southwest Rwanda (Africa). At present all the extant plants are in cultivation at Kew and in Germany.

A tiny waterlily, forming rosettes 10-20 cm wide and comprising bright green lily pads (laminas) with short petioles. The lily pads can be as little as 1 cm in diameter. The central growing tip sinks in the wet mud, preventing the developing pads from drying out before unfurling.

The flowers are white with yellow stamens, and can be self-pollinating. Blooms open early in the morning and close in early afternoon. The flowers are held vertically, a few centimetres above the plant, but once they have finished their flowering cycle the petiole bends so that the fruit is in contact with the damp mud. Once it is mature, the fruit dissolves releasing the seeds. Reproduction is by seed only.

Kew’s top propagation ‘code-breaker’, horticulturist Carlos Magdalena, has cracked the enigma of growing a rare species of African waterlily – believed to be the smallest waterlily in the world with pads as little as 1 cm in diameter.


Nymphaea thermarum, was discovered in 1987 by German botanist Professor Eberhard Fischer. It was restricted to just one known location in Mashyuza, Rwanda. However, it disappeared from this location about two years ago due to over-exploitation of the hot spring that fed this fragile habitat, and no plant is known to have survived in the wild.

Soon after its discovery, Professor Fischer realised that the species was in jeopardy and he transported a few plants to Bonn Botanic Gardens. At Bonn, horticulturists were very successful at growing these valuable specimens, and they lasted for more than a decade. However, the species proved extremely difficult to propagate.

World rarest and smallest Waterlily world record 2010 Video
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