The pale blue flower of Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea is held several centimetres above the water level by its erect, fleshy stalk. A flower may measure 15 cm across and lasts for about four days. A couple of rows of tapering petals spread radially symmetrically around the numerous yellow stamens with their blue anthers.
The petals will close as the sun goes down, opening again with morning sun. The petals are surrounded and supported by a ring of large sepals, green on the outside surfaces, white or blue on the inside. These strong sepals that protrude beyond the petals, see to the daily closing and opening of the flowers, as regulated by sunlight.
The flowers are fragrant and visited much by bees. Flowering happens throughout spring and summer.
The cordate or heart-shaped leaf of the waterlily in the centre of the photo appears elliptic or oval as the lobes at the base happen to overlap, closing the acute gap normally seen. Leaf margins are toothed with small intermittent lobes or inverted scalloping. Pale yellowish veins radiate in curved lines from the leaf base, as well as spreading laterally from the central fold at the leaf midrib.
These waterlily leaves are short-lived, being regularly replaced when the plant is in a growing phase. Old leaves lose their bright green colour as their stalks lengthen, causing them to drift outwards, making room for the new leaves in the centre (www.plantzafrica.com).