Yellow Water Lily (Nuphar lutea ssp. variegata)


The Yellow Water Lily in French Hill Pond is also called a Spatterdock, Bullhead Lily or Cow Lily. These names may be used to identify similar species and subspecies. Mainers commonly use the name Spatterdock when referring to this plant. The genus and species name is Nuphar lutea but this French Hill Pond plant has a subspecies (ssp.) name: variegata. It is a member of the Water Lily Family (Nymphaeaceae). The order to which these plants belong is the Nymphaeales.

The leaves of these plants are leathery and heart shaped with a notch that extends about one third the distance to the center of the leaf. They can have a length of 2.75 inches (7 centimeters) to 15.74 inches (40 centimeters). The color of the leaf is a dark green but  turns yellowish with age. The stems can be as long as six feet (two meters). The cross-section of the leaf stem looks like a smile. The leaves of this subspecies float but the flower extends above the water on a thick stalk.

The 1½ inch (4 centimeter) to 2½ inch (6.4 cemtimeter) flowers are ball shaped and yellow with many, complex, reproductive organs as shown in the following photograph. The five to six yellow petals are large and initially form a ball surrounding the reproductive parts. There are numerous smaller petals  within the ball and surrounding the reproductive organs. The sepals are green as seen in the photograph above. This plant flowers from May to September.

Yellow Water Lily Flower 

This spatterdock has rhizomes that can be eaten. The flower turns inward into a vase-like fruit when fertilized. The seeds can be ground and eaten or popped like popcorn and eaten. Parts of spatterdocks are used by practitioners of traditional medicine.

Yellow Water Lilies are eaten by ducks, geese, turtles and beavers. Frogs and fish use the leaves as shelter. Bullfrogs and Green Frogs may sit still on a large leaf in hope of being camouflaged.  


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