Why Carol Klein Loves The Water Lily

The water lily is probably the nation's favourite aquatic plant, and Andrew Taylor previews the next episode of 'Plant Odysses' in which Carol Klein celebrates its unique characteristics.

Created by Andrew Taylor on Wednesday, 12th of August, 2015.
Updated on Thursday, 10th of May, 2018.


In the programme, which is the last in the series, she traces the water lily's remarkable botanical history and explains her love for a plant which is in reality virtually a living fossil.

We see how human intervention and natural evolution have influenced the plant's journey from the Far East which involves elements of economics, the arts and spiritual life along the way.

Revered In Asia

This is an intriguing story from the time that the first flowering plants emerged in Asia. To illustrate how important the water lily is in that part of the world Carol travels to South Korea. 

There she drinks tea made from lotus flowers with Buddhist monks. The lotus is a close relative of the water lily and is so revered that there is a festival held in its honour.

After discovering the early evolution of the plant, we return to Europe to learn about how the water lily can dramatically interact with insects, how it adapts to the environment and its ancient system of pollinating.

And The Isle Of Wight

Stars of the show are undoubtedly the Giant Amazonian Water Lilies at Ventnor Botanic Garden on the Isle of Wight where the film crew has captured some unique night shots.

The water lilies' flowers open after midnight to attract scarab beetles who will pollinate it. When daylight arrives, the flower closes trapping the beetle.

What is amazing is that the flower is initially white and female but when opening again on the following night it has changed both colour to red and sex to male.

This is clearly a programme that will hold the interest of all plant lovers and Carol Klein's Plant Odysses can be seen next Monday 17 August at 7.00pm on BBC2.

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