Yellow Pond Lily, Nuphar polysepala

Nuphar polysepala is commonly known as the yellow pond-lily. It is a species of Nuphar, native to western North America. The genus name “Nuphar” is Greek for “water-lily”, while “polysepala” means many sepals.

N. polysepala can be recognized fairly easily by its large floating leaves and bright yellow blossoms. Its leaves float on the water’s surface and contain an external waxy coating that makes the leaf waterproof and allow it to breathe easily. The leaves are glossy green, oval or oblong in shape and typically measure 3.9 to 17.7 inches long and 2.75 to 11.8 inches wide. They have a notch at one side of the leaf stem. The leaves provide shelter for fish. The underground stems, or rhizomes are round and submerged in mud. They are thick and fleshy. N. polysepala reproduces by both seed and rhizome.

The flowers of N. polysepala are 2 to 4 inches in diameter and have between 6 and 12 bright yellow petal-like sepals. The true petals are small and located near the stamens. The fruit it produces is a yellowish-green capsule, 1.6 to 2.4 inches long and 1.2 to 2.4 inches wide. The seeds are edible and can be steamed as a vegetable or popped like popcorn. It can be dried and ground for flour or cooked like oatmeal.

N. polysepala is commonly found in shallow muddy ponds from northern Alaska and the Yukon southward to central California and northern New Mexico.

Image Caption: Yellow pond lily (Nuphar polysepala). Credit: Brocken Inaglory/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)