Victoria amazonica is a species of flowering plant, the largest of the Nymphaeaceae family of water lilies. It is the National flower of Guyana. The species has very large leaves, up to 3 m in diameter, that float on the water's surface on a submerged stalk, 7–8 m in length. The species was once called Victoria regia after Queen Victoria, but the name was superseded.
V. amazonica is native to the shallow waters of the Amazon River basin, such as oxbow lakes and bayous. It is depicted in the Guyanese coat of arms. The flowers are white the first night they are open and become pink the second night. They are up to 40 cm in diameter, and are pollinated by beetles. This process was described in detail by Sir Ghillean Prance and Jorge Arius. It is the largest waterlily in the world.
The spectacular flowers are relatively short-lived, lasting only 48 hours or so. The flower is white the first evening it opens, attracting beetles with a sweet pineapple-like scent and with heat from a thermochemical reaction. At this stage the flower is female, and is open to receiving pollen picked up by the beetles on other plants. As they bumble around inside the flower they transfer pollen to the stigmas and fertilisation takes place. Meanwhile the flower shuts, trapping them until the next evening.
During the following day the plant changes from female to male: The anthers mature and start producing pollen. When the flower reopens on the second evening it has changed colour to purplish red and no longer emits attractive scent or heat. The beetles, dusted with their pollen, fly off to find another white flower on a different plant (each plant only ever has one white flower at a time), where the process is repeated. The flower then closes up and sinks below the surface of the water, its mission accomplished.
This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.