Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. One of the true water lilies found in Florida is known as the 'fragrant water lily' for its pleasant but strong fragrance. This plant, with its yellow-centered white flower, is native and abundant in our roadside ditches and ponds. It also has a fascinating life history. Each flower is only open in the sunshine. At night, and on overcast days, it closes. Each blooms for about three days, but only on the first day is it receptive to pollination and its strong odor attracts insects that carry pollen from other fragrant water lilies. On that first day, however, the fragrant water lily does not produce any pollen of its own, thus assuring cross-pollination. On the second and third day, each flower produces pollen, again attracting insects and thus sends its pollen out to pollinate other flowers. After the third day, the flower stem begins to coil, pulling the flower underwater. The seeds mature and are released underwater. The floating green oval leaves of fragrant water lily can be nearly a foot across, and have a split along one side; think of a pizza with a narrow slice removed.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.