Scientific name

Nuphar Sm.

Common names

spatterdock, yellow waterlily, cow lily



Similar genera

Barclaya, Nymphaea, Nymphoides

Native distribution

temperate Northern Hemisphere

Species cultivated

Nuphar japonica DC.

N. lutea (L.) Sm.

N. pumila (Timm) DC.

Adventive distribution

Nuphar advena (Aiton) W.T. Aiton, N. pumila, and N. lutea have been introduced into various European countries within Nuphar's overall native distribution. N. lutea is also introduced into New Zealand.

Weed status

a significant weed in some countries


attached rosette plant with submersed, floating, and emergent leaves

Brief description

Perennial. Stem a slender or stout rhizome, usually bearing old leaf scars. Leaves in a basal rosette arising from buried rhizome, submersed, floating, or emergent; petiole smooth, greatly elongate; leaf blade ovate, deeply sagittate to orbicular with deep sinus, venation palmate; margin entire. Inflorescence a large, solitary flower borne above water surface on a long pedicel. Sepals 6, imbricate, outer green, inner green or yellow; petals numerous, yellow, smaller than sepals, linear to oblong, scale-like to stamen-like, bearing nectary on abaxial surface; stamens numerous. Dispersal by seed or sometimes by daughter plants off rhizome.

Natural habitat

lakes, ponds, and streams

Additional comments

The taxonomy of Nuphar is poorly known; numerous subspecies are described, but the genus is poorly delimited. Its rhizome is edible and young leaves are used as tea.