Nuphar lutea

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: yellow pond lily 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Nymphaeaceae
Native Range: Eurasia, northern Africa, eastern United States, West Indies
Zone: 4 to 10
Height: 0.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to October
Bloom Description: Greenish-yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Water Plant, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy, Fragrant


Best grown in 1-3’ of water in full sun to part shade. Grow in containers for water gardens. For natural ponds, plant rhizomes directly in the muddy bottom if naturalization is desired or in containers submerged therein. Thrives in poor, sandy soils. Colonizes by self-seeding and by spreading rhizomes. Can be difficult to eradicate when not grown in containers because any section of rhizome left behind may sprout new growth.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Nuphar lutea, commonly called yellow pond lily or spatterdock, is a water lily-like hardy perennial that is native to Missouri where it is commonly found in ponds, stream borders and sloughs south of the Missouri River. It is used in water gardens less than Nymphea (water lily) primarily because its flowers (2” diameter) are much smaller and much less ornamental. However, it has the advantage over Nymphea of being able to tolerate more shade and deeper water. It is more often used in large water gardens and ponds where it can develop underwater stems to as much as 6’ long and slowly spread to form sizeable colonies. Leaves and flowers emerge on separate stalks from thick underground rhizomes. Flat, leathery, oval/heart-shaped, lilypad-like leaves (to 16” long) either stand erect above the water or float on the water surface. Submerged ruffled cabbage-like leaves are smaller. Fragrant globular cup-shaped greenish-yellow flowers appear from May to October. Each flower partially opens in the morning and closes at night, lasting about 4-5 days. Spent flowers give way to seed heads that burst when ripe, thus broadcasting or spattering their seeds over the water surface in a manner supposedly reminiscent of dock (Rumex), hence the common name of spatterdock. Flowers and leaf stems die back to the rhizome in autumn. Native Americans consumed the starchy rootstocks as boiled or roasted vegetables and harvested the seed for grinding into flour. Flowers have a brandy-like aroma and the seedpods look like small flasks, hence the occasionally used common name of brandy-bottle.

Genus name comes from the Persian word nufar.

Specific epithet means yellow.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Large water gardens. Ponds.