Nymphoides, a genus that earned its name owing to its resemblance to the water lily, lies in the family of Menyanthaceae. The species of this genus have their roots submerged entirely in water, with floating leaves that support small flowers above the surface of the water. The flowers of the plants are sympetalous, with each flower having five petals that are usually white or yellow and have lateral wings adorned to them.
The flowers, leaves, and seeds of the Nymphoides are edible. They are cooked as potherbs, meaning they are eaten or used as seasoning. The taste of the leaves is not as pleasant as the other parts of the plant.
These plants are also believed to have medicinal uses. Nymphoides’ leaves are sometimes used in the treatment of periodic headaches. The plants are normally refrigerated and bruised to be used in the treatment of burns, snake bites, and fevers.
The cultivation of Nymphoides occurs in shallow waters that have plenty of loam, though in rich soil, as the plant is very invasive. They prefer sunlight and do not grow properly in acidic soil conditions. These plants are commonly sold and displayed in floating form, but they grow better when anchored with their rhizomes in the substrate. The flowers blossom from July through September, and the seeds ripen from August through October. These flowers are hermphrodites and are pollinated by bees and Lepidopteras.
Some species of Nymphoides are purchased as aquarium plants, the banana plant and the water snowflake being the most popular. Overall, it has 50 species in total, and they are native to many parts of the world. The species native to North America are Nymphoides cordata and Nymphoides aquatica, though some species grow as far as Europe and Asia. Many species grow in Australia, while others exist in Africa as well. Five of the species are often used by aquarists.
As of 2010, this flowering plant is not very popular, primarily because it is difficult to market. This is because the plant grows long runners within its tank, which often tangle. Those who are determined to grow the plants in their fish tanks can stunt growth and avoid flowering by reducing light and preventing the plant from surfacing. Some gardeners find the brightly colored flowers of these plants appealing and use them in water gardens. It is important, however, to avoid species of Nymphoides that are classified as noxious weeds and tend to escape cultivation.