Brasenia schreberi (Water-shield)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Cabombaceae (Water-shield)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; mucky soil, ponds, slow moving water
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:to 7 feet deep water
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 6-petals

[photo of flower] A single flower ¾ inch across on a stout naked stalk rising up to 4 inches above the water surface. Flowers typically have 3 (sometimes 4) downward curved petals and an equal number of sepals slightly smaller in size and of similar shape and color. In the center are numerous erect stamens. Color ranges from dull purplish brown to pinkish red.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are waxy green, purplish on the underside, oval to elliptic, to 5 inches long and half as wide, geometrically centered on long stalks alternately attached on the upper portion of the submerged stem. Leaves float flat on water surface. Underwater stems are covered with a mucilaginous (snot-like) jelly.


Water-shield is a smaller aquatic surface species, not as common as the white water lily (Nymphaea odorata) or the yellow bullhead lily (Nuphar variegata) but is often found interspersed among these species when present. Beyond lakes in the seven county metro, its range generally coincides with lakes within the coniferous forest biome of Minnesota.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken along a roadside lake on Hwy 65 in the Big Sandy Lake area of Aitkin county


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Denis - woodrow twsp. in cass co.
on: 2015-08-01 18:30:01

This species was uncommon in Trillium Lake 30 yrs. ago. In the past 10 yrs. it has become very common mixed in with water lily. Is there something going on in the water (good or bad) that is likely to cause this?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2015-08-01 19:51:31

Denis, we don't track this information ourselves but maybe someone at the DNR or your local Soil and Water Conservation District has more insight.

Posted by: gary - Carlton County
on: 2021-07-18 22:43:42

In a sluggish stream that flows into a boggyy lake somewhere north of Park Lake on County Highway 7.

Posted by: Eileen M Jubera - Saginaw - Little Grand Lake (St. Louis County)
on: 2022-09-07 19:16:10

These seem to be spreading on Little Grand Lake in Saginaw. Wonder if they're pushing out white water lilies.

Posted by: Ian Manning - Chippewa national Forest
on: 2024-03-14 16:03:44

I was camping on a small, unnamed lake in August 2023. The lake shore had massive amounts of Brasenia all around the entire perimeter of the lake

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