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Nuphar lutea (Yellow pond lily)
Cressler, Alan

Nuphar lutea

Nuphar lutea (L.) Sm.

Yellow Pond Lily, Yellow Cow Lily, Cow Lily, Spatter Dock, Wakas

Nymphaeaceae (Water-Lily Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N), SPM (N)

The leaves of this coarse, rhizomatous aquatic perennial are quite variable and may be wide or rather narrow and submersed or floating. The single, yellow, fleshy flower, with its prominent, lobed stigma is the best known feature. Yellow pond-lily can grow in water up to 16 in. deep.

There are a number of subspecies of Nuphar lutea.


From the Image Gallery

7 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Leaves and flowers usually float on the surface of the water.
Fruit: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


USA: AK , AL , AR , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NV , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: NB , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: Lab. to AK, s. to FL, TX & B.C.
Native Habitat: Ponds; lakes; bayous, Ponds, bogs, streams and springs in the Edwards Plateau and east Texas.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
Aquatic: yes
Soil Description: Clay, Loam, Sand


Use Food: Native people gathered the thick rootstocks in winter and spring, boiled or roasted them for several hours, then peeled them to expose their sweet, gluey contents. Rootstocks were also sliced, dried and ground into meal or flour. The starchy seeds can be difficult to remove, so the tribes rotted the fruits until the pods became soft. The heated seeds swell like poor-quality popcorn, making a crunchy snack. (Kershaw)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds
Deer Resistant: High


Propagation Material: Root Cuttings
Description: Divide bulblets from plants and grow in watertanks. Also can grow from slices of root with buds.
Commercially Avail: yes

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0900 Collected Jun 24. 1994 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe

1 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium


Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Nuphar lutea in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Nuphar lutea in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Nuphar lutea


Record Modified: 2023-02-20
Research By: TWC Staff, MAC

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