It's remarkable that for all the tropical wandering I've done, I'd never seen this giant water lily before. It's the biggest draw at the main botanical garden in Mauritius, but like most things on that small volcanic island, it's from far away.
And if you think botanical names are just for geeks, go ahead and call this the Giant Water Lily. Its real name, Victoria amazonica, almost qualifies as a short poem or demi-haiku about Britannia's masculine confidence in the service of a fighting queen. The Brits didn't conquer the Amazon of course, but they were always on the lookout for spectacular tropical plants to extend the horticultural dimensions of empire. Wikipedia tells the story of the 19th century race to be the the first to cultivate the plant and bring it to flower in Britain, with nothing but coal-fired heating to protect it from England's winter.
Water lilies are engaging mostly because they hide the machinery, thus satisfying the human craving for compelling illusions. Unless you can really see into the water, each pad and each flower looks like a separate happening. The stalks that hold the plant together underwater are dark red, a little darker than the red of the outside pad wall. You have to look closely to see them.
Wikipedia says the flower is white the first day it appears, turning pink the second. If that's true the flowers must be very fleeting, because here most of them were white.
New leaves look a little rougher as they unfurl.
I suspect the leaves are the real reason this species so captivated the British. They can get to 3m (!) in diameter, but the ones in Mauritius are only about 1m across. The wall around each leaf, about 10cm high, makes each seem a small stage. It's hard to resist the temptation to step on one, perhaps try to ride it somewhere.