Friday, December 27, 2013

Native Species Profile - Yellow Water Lily

This post is part of a continuing series on plants found in one of the most common habitat types in Mid-Michigan - the Emergent Marsh.  Profiles of other plants found in this habitat include:  Great Blue Lobelia, Blue Flag Iris, Blue Vervain, Common Arrowhead, Common and Narrow-leaf Cattails, Lizard's Tail, Marsh Marigold, Spotted Joe-Pye Weed, White Turtlehead, and Giant Bur Reed

All of the plants listed above are emergent plants that rise above the surface.  Other emergent plants have leaves that float on the surface of the water.  One common plant with floating leaves is the Yellow Water Lily (Nuphar variegatum).  Also known as Yellow Pond Lily or Spatterdock,  Yellow Water Lily is found throughout the northern half of North America - in 24 states ranging from Idaho eastward to New England, as far south as Kansas and Maryland, and in all Canadian provinces and territories.

Yellow Water Lily is found growing in shallow water (less than 7 feet deep) in emergent marshes, ponds, lakes, bays, streams and bogs.  The plant's leaves are roughly arrowhead or heart-shaped, grow up to 10 inches long, and are usually found floating on the water's surface.


The plant's flowers usually rise above the water's surface on individual stalks.  Flowers are small, yellow, and globe-shaped.  Individual flowers may be between 1 to 2 inches across.  Each flower has only three petals. The Yellow Water Lily blooms between July and August.

Basic Information

Yellow Water Lily 
Nuphar variegatum

Height:  aquatic, floating leaves

Habitat:  shallow water, ponds, lakes, bays, bogs, streams

Flower Color:  yellow

Bloom Time:  July – August

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