first printed in the Eastern Iowa Pond Society Newsletter Sept. 2001
By Josh Spece
The Queen of Water Lilies, the magnificent Victoria lily, is very particular in her needs. She can’t be too cold, can’t be crammed in to too small of a home, and can’t be under fed. Even when we give her exactly what she wants, sometimes she still wrinkles up her nose! Victoria has a close relative that, although no quite as impressive, is much easier to please. Meet Victoria’s cousin, Euryale!
Euryale ferox is the only species in the genus. Commonly called the Gorgon Plant, Euryale is native to the tropical regions of Asia.
Like the Victoria, Euryale can grow to become a monster. A well-grown plant can have pads up to five feet across! The tops of the pads are deep green with purple veins and are heavily “quilted” or wrinkled. The undersides are bright purple and laced with large veins. At first glance, the obvious difference between Victoria and Euryale is the absence of the unusual rim or lip around the edge of the pad.
Nearly every part of the plant is covered with needle sharp spines. The top of the pads, the bottom of the pads, the leaf and flower stems, and even the flower buds. Deadheading and pruning suddenly become dangerous jobs!
Beside the lack of rims, the other main difference from Victoria is the flower. Although it is a day bloomer, Euryale rarely displays its flowers for us enjoy. The purple flower almost always opens underwater. Another unusual characteristic is that the flower self-pollinates before it even opens. Seed is readily produced and it is not uncommon for seedlings to sprout all over the pond.
Euryale ferox is surprisingly easy to grow. Currently, I am growing a Euryale in a 16” diameter pot of clay and topsoil. The pot sets about a foot below the surface of the water. The key to growing a large plant is to fertilize heavily. Once a week my plant gets between 6 and 8 fertilizer tablets. With this fertilizing schedule, each pad has grown larger than the last. As of August 21, the largest pad is over 24” across, but so far no flowers.
Euryale is much more tolerant of cool weather than Victoria. However, the warmer it is, the faster it grows. During our 95* + heat wave, my plant produced a new pad about every 5 to 6 days. The pad reached the surface of the pond as ball of spines and took another 5 to 6 days to reach full size.
If Victoria’s fussiness has turned you off, perhaps you will give Euryale a try. It may not be as impressive as Her Royal Hiness, but Euryale will no doubt be the centerpiece of your pond!