Victoria Amazonica – Leiden, Netherlands - Atlas Obscura

Leiden, Netherlands

Victoria Amazonica

People have been placing babies on these lilies for photoshoots since the Victorian era. 

The Victoria amazonica is a type of water lily from the Amazon and is known as the plant with world’s largest flower. The plant’s enormous leaves can grow up to nine feet (three meters) in diameter. But their size isn’t why they draw a crowd each summer at the Hortus Botanicus in Leiden.

The lilies are big and strong enough to support the weight of a small child. And that’s exactly what they do every year, usually around July, at this Dutch botanic garden.

When the lilies are at their strongest, the Hortus Botanicus opens its doors to parents with babies no older than six months. The kids are then plopped on one of the massive plants—which itself is placed atop a supportive structure for extra security—for an unusual photo opportunity. The tradition of having young kids photographed on these lilies has been going strong for more than 100 years.

Even those without kids can still enjoy these magnificent plants. The first night the flowers bloom, they’re a milky white color and emit a sweet, sugary scent. The second night they bloom, the flowers turn a beautiful pinkish purple.

Their size and beauty made them a hot commodity for many greenhouses during the Victorian era. However, not many of these greenhouses remain, making a chance to see the Victoria amazonica an incredible treat.

Know Before You Go

Each year an announcement is made a few days in advance of the event, when the leaves are deemed big and strong enough. Often there is only a limited amount of places, so make sure to keep an eye out on the event.

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