Water lilies have floating leaves. There are about 40 species of water lily in the world, plus numerous hybrids and varieties. Some water lily species prefer southerly warmth and are found in temperate and semi-tropical zones, some prefer the cold and are found only in northern Canada and Alaska.
This species, fragrant water lily (Nymphaea odorata), occurs from Puerto Rico to Alaska and from California to Quebec (Kartesz 1999). Its many subspecies and varieties may be found floating in ponds, lakes and sluggish streams just about everywhere in North America.
Water lily leaves are nearly circular in shape. They are notched to the center. Its leaf lobes are pointed. The leaves arise on stalks from long rhizomes in the mud. Fragrant water lily flowers are showy white and aromatic. Flowers of unusual color and shape are characteristic of hybrid water lilies.
Another native water lily species in Florida is the yellow water lily.
When not blooming, water lily might be confused with spatterdock, Nuphar advena. Compare the leaf shapes and flowers.
View the herbarium specimen image from the University of Florida Herbarium Digital Imaging Projects.
For brief control information, see Efficacy of Herbicide Active Ingredients Against Aquatic Weeds by K. Langeland, M. Netherland, and W. Haller.