This perennial wildflower is an emergent aquatic that produces leaves and flowers directly from underwater rhizomes. The leaf blades are 1-2½' across; they are orbicular and concave toward their centers, smooth and slightly wavy-drooping along their margins, and peltate (each petiole joining its leaf blade near the middle). The upper blade surface is light to dark green and glabrous, while the lower blade surface is light green and slightly hairy. Several veins radiate from the center of each leaf blade, branching dichotomously toward its margin. The relatively stout petioles are 2-6' long, light green, terete, and glabrous; they contain internal chambers of air. Most leaf blades are held about ½-3' above the surface of the water on their petioles, although a minority of leaf blades may float on the surface of the water. Flowers are produced individually from stout peduncles about 3-6' tall. The peduncles are light green, terete, and glabrous; like the petioles, they also contain internal chambers of air. The flowers are held about ½-3' above the surface of the water. Each flower is about 4-8' across, consisting of 10-20 tepals, an obconic receptacle, and numerous stamens. The outermost tepals are light green, otherwise they are white to pale yellow. The golden yellow stamens have hooked appendages at their apices. Each receptacle has 10-20 pistils along its truncate upper surface that are embedded in pits. The blooming period occurs during mid- to late summer for about 1½ months. Individual flowers are short-lived and often mildly fragrant. Afterwards, the receptacles of the flowers become 3-6' across and turn brown; each receptacle contains 10-20 nut-like seeds. Individual seeds are about ½' across and ovoid-globoid in shape; the receptacle eventually bends downward to release the seeds into the water. The root system is long-rhizomatous. Rhizomes that are produced during late summer and fall become swollen and starchy. This wildflower is a strong colonizer.