Nuphar variegata (Yellow Pond-lily)

Plant Info
Also known as: Bullhead Lily, Variegated Yellow Pond-lily
Family:Nymphaeaceae (Water-lily)
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: 5-petals Flower shape: 6-petals

[photo of flower] A single flower 1 to 2½ inches across on a stout stalk rising above the water. Flowers are globular, typically with 6 round bright yellow petals that may be green on the outer surface near the base, and dark red on the inside near the base. In the center are numerous yellow petals with dozens of similarly shaped stamens spirally arranged around a yellow central column. At the tip of the column is a yellow to greenish disk that has 7 to 28 rays.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are oval to heart-shaped, 4 to 10 inches long and about 2/3 as wide, with a rounded tip and deep cleft at the base; the lobes at the base are rounded and about half as long as the blade's midrib. The leaf stalks are flattened on one side, and are narrowly “winged”. Leaves are flat and float on the surface, but in low water conditions they rise above the water and can become wavy around the edges.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit is an oval capsule up to about 1½ inches long, strongly ribbed and purplish.


Yellow Pond-lily, known in older references as Nuphar lutea spp. variegata, is one of the more common aquatic plants in Minnesota and found in most counties, though surprisingly there are no herbarium records collected in places where it should be thriving, such as Sherburne and Rice counties. It often co-habitates with White Water-lily (Nymphaea odorata). Yellow Pond-lily is readily identifiable by the large, yellow, globe-shaped flowers and large, oval, floating leaves. It is one of the parents to the hybrid Nuphar ×rubrodisca, which has slightly smaller flowers with a red disk.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at various ponds across Minnesota.


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

Posted by: Janelle - Battle Lake
on: 2014-02-15 07:23:22

Growing in a small, unpolluted, fresh-water lake called Lake Emma in Glendalough State Park

Posted by: Tim - Lax Lake
on: 2015-06-30 20:02:09

Found in the broad shallows and creek among reeds and rushes near the inlet end of the lake. White water lillies in other places on the lake.

Posted by: Darlene Turner - Lake Brophy
on: 2021-07-17 15:46:01

Growing in Lake Brophy near Alexandria

Posted by: Ron Johannsen - Trenton Lake
on: 2023-07-25 18:30:28

Bright & shiny also arrowhead with them.

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