This is a collection of free printable vintage giant water lily (Victoria Amazonica) illustrations and drawings. It has also been called the Victoria Regia great water lily.
Not just because they are the warmest places, but whenever I visit Kew Gardens, I always make a beeline for the tropical palm and water lily houses. I love tropical plants they remind me of my childhood.
Completed in 1852, the water lily house is full of stunning aquatic plants. Including the Victoria Amazonica, the world’s largest water lily and the biggest showstopper of them all.
The giant lily pads can grow up to 2.5m in diameter. The plant produces large white to pink flowers. The blooms have a sweet pineapple-like fragrance to attract beetles.
One of the first people to successfully grow a giant water lily was the renowned gardener Joseph Paxton. His daughter Alice, was actually drawn standing on a giant lily pad, for the newspaper (see below). And the plant’s ribbed leaves were his key inspiration for the design of Crystal Palace, to house the Great Exhibition of 1851.
An early 20th century postcard of the inside of the Water Lily house at Kew Gardens.
Facts About the Giant Water Lily (Victoria Amazonica)
- First discovered in Bolivia in 1801, the plant was originally called Eurgale Amazonica.
- However, in 1837 John Lindley decided to change the name of the plant to Victoria Amazonica, in honour of the British monarch at the time, Queen Victoria.
- At Kew, the giant water lily is a hand-pollinated annual plant. In the wild, it’s a perennial plant, pollinated by a beetle.
- Air trapped in the spaces between the ribs on the underside of the giant lily pad leaves makes them very buoyant. They can hold the weight of a small child.
- The lily pad has open notches on the side which are used to drain excess water collected on the top.
- To protect the plant from being eaten by fish, there are sharp spikes on the underside of the leaves.
- The seeds and stalks of giant water lilies are edible.
- The plant originally grew in the stagnant water of the Amazon region. Cultivated lilies require a water temperature of 27 to 30 degrees Celsius.
The Giant Water Lily (Victoria Amazonica) Illustrations & Drawings
To download the giant lily drawing you want, click on the title above that illustration. A higher resolution image will open in a new browser window. Click on that image and you will have the option to print and save it.
All the illustrations and drawings here are in the Public Domain. This means that you are free to use them how you wish to.
A 1905 photograph of Giant water lilies in the botanical gardens, Budapest.
Giant water lily illustrations from the Welcome collection, London. It is the national flower of Guiana.
Victoria Amazonica by William Hooker Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, 1847.
A close up waterlily flower botanical illustration of the same edition of Curtis’s Botanical Magazine above.
Another close up drawing of the Victoria Amazonica from the above magazine.
A botanical illustration of the flowers seed pod from Curtis’s Magazine 1847.
Victoria Regia Illustrations
The following six giant waterlily illustrations are from the book “Victoria regia, or, The great water lily of America? with a brief account of its discovery and introduction into cultivation /with illustrations by William Sharp, from specimens grown at Salem, Massachusetts … by John Fisk Allen“. Published in 1854.
A botanical illustration of giant water lilies in a tropical lake. From the Welcome collection, London.
A coloured lithograph by W. Fitch,1845, of a giant water lily flower. From the Welcome Collection.
Entire flowering plant with floating leaves. Coloured lithograph by W. Fitch, c. 1845
Giant water lily (Victoria amazonica) dissection illustration of twenty-one different anatomical segments of the plant. Coloured lithograph by W. Fitch, c. 1845.
The flower of a giant water lily (Victoria amazonica). Coloured lithograph, c. 1850, by C. Rosenberg. From the Welcome Collection.