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Giant water lily can keep a person afloat in Helsinki

The legend of the victoria amazonica, or giant water lily, goes that the unusually large plants are able to keep a fully-grown person afloat. Botanists and gardeners at the University of Helsinki's Kaisaniemi Botanical Garden now have proof.

Puutarhuri Yaiza Malin kokeilee kannatteleeko jättilumpeenlehti ihmistä
Puutarhuri Yaiza Malin kokeilee kannatteleeko jättilumpeenlehti ihmistä Image: Luonnontieteellinen keskusmuseo

The leaves on a giant water lily can reach up to 180 cm in diameter. At the moment the largest leaves in Kaisaniemi are about 150 cm wide.

The facility's lightest worker, gardener Yaiza Malin, proved recently that it is possible to sit on a floating water lily.

The giant water lilies at the garden are the only plant there that survived the Continuation War, which ended in 1944. The greenhouses were bombed during the war, killing nearly everything in them.

However, after the war garden workers found water lily seeds below the ice in one of the garden's frozen pools. The surviving lilies at the garden are direct descendants of those lilies that were all but destroyed some 70 years ago.

The South American Victoria amazonica (previously known as Victoria regina), is the largest species of the Nymphaeaceae family of water lilies. It only flowers at night.

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