This giant waterlily is the biggest in the world — and it’s a newly identified species–the lily (shushan or shushanah) (the lily of testimony)

I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. Hosea:14:5 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. Numbers:13:33

By Amarachi Orie, CNN

Updated 1437 GMT (2237 HKT) July 4, 2022

The leaves of Victoria boliviana can reach 10 feet in width.

The leaves of Victoria boliviana can reach 10 feet in width.

(Heb. shushan, shoshannah). Although there is little doubt that the Hebrew word denotes some plant of the lily species, it is by no means certain what individual of this class it specially designates. The plant must have been a conspicuous object on the shores of the Lake of Gennesaret, (Matthew 6:28 Luke 12:27) it must have flourished in the deep broad valleys of Palestine, (Song of Solomon 2:1) among the thorny shrubs, ib. (Song of Solomon 2:2) and pastures of the desert, ib. (Song of Solomon 2:16 4:5 6:3) and must have been remarkable for its rapid and luxuriant growth. (Hosea 14:5), Ecclus. That its flowers were brilliant in color would seem to be indicated in (Matthew 6:28) where it is compared with the gorgeous robes of Solomon; and that this color was scarlet or purple is implied in (Song of Solomon 5:13) There appears to be no species of lily which so completely answers all these requirements as the Lilium chalcedonicum, or scarlet martagon, which grows in profusing in the Levant. But direct evidence on the point is still to be desired from the observation of travellers. (It is very probable that the term lily here is general, not referring to any particular species, but to a large class of flowers growing in Palestine, and resembling the lily, as the tulip, iris, gladiolus, etc.–ED.) SBD Lily.1 – SBD Lily.2


London (CNN)An enormous waterlily in London’s Royal Botanic Gardens has been discovered to belong to an entirely new species, after 177 years in the gardens’ herbarium.

Victoria boliviana is the world’s biggest known waterlily species, with leaves growing to nearly 10 feet wide in the wild, according to a press release from the gardens in Kew, west London. The largest specimen of the species can be found in La Rinconada Gardens in Bolivia, with leaves of up to 10.5 feet in width.

The leaf of the giant waterlily, which belongs to one of three species in the Victoria genus, can support a weight of at least 176 pounds.

Shushan, Or SusaSBD Shushan, Or Susa.1(a lily), is said to have received its name from the abundance of the lily (shushan or shushanah) in its neighborhood. It was originally the capital of the country called in Scripture Elam, and by the classical writers Susis or Susiana. In the time of Daniel Susa was in the possession of the Babylonians, to whom Elam had probably passed at the division of the Assyrian empire made by Cyaxares and Nabopolassar. (Daniel 8:2) The conquest of Babylon by Cyrus transferred Susa to the Persian dominion; and it was not long before the Achaemenian princes determined to make it the capital of their whole empire and the chief place of their own residence. According to some writers the change was made by Cyrus; according to others it had at any rate taken place before the death of Cambyses; but, according to the evidence of the place itself and of the other Achaemenian monuments, it would seem most probable that the transfer was really the work of Darius Hystaspes. Nehemiah resided here. (Nehemiah 1:1) Shushan was situated on the Ulai or Choaspes. It is identified with the modern Sus or Shush, its ruins are about three miles in circumference. (Here have been found the remains of the great palace build by Darius, the father of Xerxes, in which and the surrounding buildings took place the scenes recorded in the life of Esther. The great central hall was 343 feet long by 244 feet wide. The king’s gate, says Schaff, where Mordecai sat, ‘was probably a hall 100 feet square, 150 feet from the northern portico. Between these two was probably the inner court, where Esther appeared before the king.’–ED.)
ShushaneduthSBD Shushaneduth.1(the lily of testimony), (Psalms 60:1) … is probably an abbreviation of ‘Shoshannim-eduth.’ (Psalms 80:1) … Shoshannim
Shuthalhites, TheSBD Shuthalhites, The.1Shuthelah
ShuthelahSBD Shuthelah.1(noise of breaking), head of an Ephraimite family, called after him Shuthalhites, (Numbers 26:35) and lineal ancestor of Joshua the son of Numb (1 Chronicles 7:20-27) SBD Shushan, Or Susa.1 – SBD Shuthelah.2

“Having this new data for Victoria and identifying a new species in the genus is an incredible achievement in botany — properly identifying and documenting plant diversity is crucial to protecting it and sustainably benefiting from it,” said Alex Monro, a taxonomist, systematist and field botanist at Kew and a senior author of the study published Monday in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science, in the press release.

V. boliviana carrying the weight of study coauthor Carlos Magdalena's 6-year-old son.

V. boliviana carrying the weight of study coauthor Carlos Magdalena’s 6-year-old son.

The newly identified species, V. boliviana, was commonly and mistakenly believed to be Victoria amazonica, one of the two previously known species of giant waterlily, according to the study.


The loss of live specimens of the original species, as well as the scarcity of biological collections of giant waterlilies, resulted in disagreements over the number of recognized species and the incorrect naming of species for most of the 19th and 20th centuries. The goal of the study was to improve the knowledge of Victoria waterlilies.

World's largest bacterium discovered is the size of a human eyelash

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An international team headed by Kew’s scientific and botanical research horticulturist, Carlos Magdalena, botanical artist Lucy Smith and biodiversity genomics researcher Natalia Przelomska, alongside partners from the National Herbarium of Bolivia, Santa Cruz de La Sierra Botanic Garden and La Rinconada Garden, made the first discovery of a giant waterlily in more than a century.

The team made the breakthrough by compiling all existing information from historical records, horticulture and geography, assembling a dataset of species characteristics, and through DNA analysis.

Kew is the only place in the world that grows all the three species of Victoria together side by side, which Magdalena said allowed for the comparison of the species in a way not possible in the wild, where they grow over vast areas.

Specimens of Victoria boliviana have been grown at Kew for 177 years.

Specimens of Victoria boliviana have been grown at Kew for 177 years.

The study found V. boliviana to be genetically different from the two other species, but most closely related to V. cruziana, and that the two species might have diverged around a million years ago.

“For almost two decades, I have been scrutinizing every single picture of wild Victoria waterlilies over the internet, a luxury that a botanist from the 18th, 19th and most of the 20th century didn’t have,” said Magdalena, who suspected there was a third species since 2006 after seeing a picture of the plant online.

“I have learnt so much in the process of officially naming this new species and it’s been the biggest achievement of my 20-year career at Kew,” he said.

The giant waterlily can be seen in the Waterlily House and the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens.

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