Water Lily

Nymphaea spp. – Water Lily


Water LilyNymphaea spp.

Nymphaea = nimf-ie-a, from L. Nymphe (Theophrastus name after one of the three water nymphs);

Identification: This aquatic perennial herb has a rootstock with erect rhizome. The flower is white with purplish lines. The leaf blades are 5-12 cm long and 3-7 cm wide and have green or purplish undersides.

Distribution & Habitat: White Water Lily is found in lakes and ponds mostly in northerly locations.

Preparation & Uses: The young leaves of water lily are said to be good in soups. The flower buds can be eaten raw or pickled. The roots are listed as antiseptic, astringent, demulcent and emollient. Water is a solvent. Its main use is as an antiseptic douche. The Indians have used this root for generations in all cases of leucorrhea, abrasions of the vagina, inflammation of the womb and ulceration of the womb. At one time this plant was known as “Breastweed“, after its use for inflamed breasts. Grieve reports complete cure of uterine cancer by a decoction and a vaginal injection of white pond lily. It should be used as a douche as well as drunk.

A tea made of white lily roots is a good gargle for irritation and inflammation of the mouth or throat. As a chest medicine it has been used for asthma and tuberculosis. This same infusion has been effective as an eyewash and also makes a good skin lotion to heal sores. Anyone who has seen Waterhouse’s painting “Water Nymphs“ will deduce that this lotion is not only soothing but makes the skin soft and smooth. The leaves and roots are useful as a poultice for wounds, cuts and bruises.

The decoction is made by boiling one oz. of root for 20 minutes in one pint of water.