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Monday, 22 August 2011






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National flower threatened by hybrid species

A recent research has revealed that the national flower of Sri Lanka ‘Blue Water Lily or Nil Manel’ (Nymphaea Nouchali) is facing the threat of extinction due to its hybridization with the violet flowered Nymphaea which is often misidentified as the national flower.

This research was carried out by Peradeniya University Botany Department Senior Lecturer Prof Deepthi Yakandawala and Wayamba University Horticulture and Landscape Gardening Department Senior Lecturer Dr Kapila Yakandawala.

The research has revealed a range of hybrids of these two varieties some closer to the native and some closer to the violet flowered Nymphaea which is acting as a silent invader. Prof Deepthi Yakandawala said that these hybrids are widely spreading over the country becoming a threat to the native original national flower.

“The violet flowered Nymphaea is thought to have been introduced into the country as an ornamental aquatic a long time back and has now got established in local water-bodies. It has been erroneously identified as the native variety in many literatures. It has not only invaded the natural habitats of the native variety, but has also extended its territory into larger tanks which are habitats of other aquatic plants.

The large leaves floating on the surface of the water cuts down a fair percentage of the light that penetrates into the water,” she noted. She observed that due to the erroneous identification of the alien violet flowered Nymphaea species as the national flower, it has gained a prominent role in social, cultural and religious events in Sri Lanka providing more opportunities for its spread.

The professor observed that the pure Nymphaea Nouchali populations are fast shrinking as a result of the rapid spread of the invasive violet flowered Nymphaea and hybrid varieties. She urged the relevant authorities to educate the public about the original national flower to face the impending threat to the species.


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