The flowers range from 7.5-12.5 cm. wide having several broad, tapering petals that narrow toward the center. Petals are curved lengthwise forming a slight channel. The center has one pistil and is densely packed with bright yellow stamens.
The leaves range from 10-30 cm. wide, are heart shaped and broadly rounded. The upper side is water repellant and glossy green. The underside is purplish-red.
The fragrant water lily can be found in the still, relatively shallow water (5-7 ft.) of ditches, ponds, and similar water bodies that have silty, mucky beds.
The fragrant water lily is the most common white water lily. Unlike most dry land plants that have their stomata on the underside of leaves, the fragrant water lily has its stomata on the upper side of its leaves. The fleshy rhizomes of this plant are a common food source for muskrats.
This particular water lily is native to the eastern portion of North American. However, its commercial appeal initiated its dispersal throughout the Northern continent. As a result, the fragrant water lily has become a secondary invader that, in extreme cases, can achieve extraordinary population growth and destabilize underwater ecosystems.