It is native to the shallow waters of the Amazon River basin, such as oxbow lakes and bayous. The flowers are white the first night they are open and become pink the second night. They are up to seventeen inches in diameter, and pollinated by beetles.
A second species, V. cruziana, in the Parana-Paraguay basin which is only slightly smaller, with the underside of the leaves purple rather than the red of V. regia, and covered with a peachlike fuzz lacking in V. regia.
A third type, V. mattogrossensis or V. cruziana var. mattogrossensis, found in the pantanal region, resembles V. cruziana except in having huge seeds.