“This kitten, perhaps, is wondering how he is going to get ashore without wetting his feet,” opines the note accompanying a 1935 Alfred T. Palmer photo from the Philippines. “But he is perfectly safe so long as he stays aboard this floating giant of the vegetable world, the ‘Queen Victoria’ (Victoria regia) water lily.”
The tiny cat’s perfect safety wasn’t ever in question. Now more commonly called the giant water lily—reaching eight feet across and staying afloat by means of a substantial amount of air trapped in the spaces between its ribs—the plant is strongest at its center and can hold up to a hundred pounds.
— Johnna Rizzo
Photograph by Alfred T. Palmer, National Geographic Image Collection