Spatterdock or yellow water lily (Nuphar species)

Spatterdock or Water Lily floating on pond with distinctive yellow flowerThe Spatterdock plant (also known as Water Lily and Pond Lily) is an aquatic plant with leaves up to 60 centimeters (24 inches) long with a triangular notch at the base. The shape of the glossy green leaves, which float on the water’s surface, is somewhat variable but are typically oval with a notch on one side toward the leaf stem. The plant’s yellow (or orangish) flowers are 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) across, held above the water surface, and develop into green, bottle-shaped fruits each containing numerous seeds which are dispersed by the water currents. The fruits are green when ripe.

Where to Find: These plants grow throughout most of North America. They are found in quiet, shallow (never deeper than 1.8 meters [6 feet]) freshwater including ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers.

Edible Parts: The yellow flower of the Spatterdock or Water LilyAll parts of the plant are edible. The fruits contain several dark brown seeds you can parch or roast and then grind into flour. In some species the seeds will pop like popcorn.  The large rootstock contains starch. Dig it out of the mud, peel off the outside, and boil the flesh. Sometimes the rootstock contains large quantities of a very bitter compound. Boiling the plant in several changes of water may remove the bitterness.

Other Uses: The root can be chopped and boiled in water to create a mouthwash for sore throats. Leaves and root stocks can be used for skin ailments and swelling.

Spatterdock or Water Lily flower

Yellow Spatterdock or Water Lily flower on long stem extending above the water's surface

Spatterdock or Water Lily leaves and flower

A colony of Spatterdock or Water Lily plants

Spatterdock or Water Lily leaves floating on water

Surface of water covered with Spatterdock or Water Lily plants

Spatterdock or Water Lily leaves are oval with a notch on the stem side

Color drawing of Spatterdock or Water Lily illustrating the plant's components

Color drawing of Spatterdock plant