Water Lilies from The heart of the continent By Fitz Hugh Ludlow

Dwarf Waterlily


But the two most charming flowers of the region, the one for its perfume, the other for its color, were a tiny species having the habits and appearance of the water-lily, to whose family I supposed it to belong, and a crimson cup as large as a small althea, whose only name among the ranch people was "the ground poppy" though whether it be really allied to that plant I regret my inability to state. Its plant-leaves are multi-lobed, and somewhat like those of our own poppy; but it grows upon running stalks close to the ground, and to unscientific eyes seems quite as closely connected with the mallows. It appears in patches varying from a few feet to several rods in circuit, and wherever these occur, the ground is one gorgeous mass of magenta fire. It is the glory of the fertile plains in May and early June, and we afterward found it extending for miles among the barren-sand dunes beyond Fort Kearney, encroaching upon the territory of the cacti and the gramma-grass. Wherever it appears, it is the chief visual delight of the Plains, Flora. The tiny water-lily above mentioned, I only found once in all our progress to the buffalo country. We had halted at the bottom of a wet-draw to water our horses. I went above the place where they were drinking, to quench my thirst at a brown pool which appeared a trifle less stagnant than their watering place, and, lying down with my face over the water, noticed an exquisitely subtle fragrance like that of tuberose and orange-flower combined. On pushing away the weeds which grew out over the pool, I found a nest of lovely white blossoms, smaller than the smallest strawberry-flower, shaped like an Eastern waterlily in miniature, with delicate yellow. stamens and pistil, and moored on the water by slender green filaments rooted in the ooze of the pool  No American blossom that I am acquainted with, not even the trailing arbutus, possesses such an indescribable ethereal fragrance as this tiny water-lily. I sought in vain to preserve specimens of it. The pages of the note-book in which I pressed them, absorbed the petals as if they had been dew, and only stains were left, having none of the flower's characteristic odor.