This aquatic plant grows in shallow water and wetlands, with its roots in the sediment and its leaves floating on the water surface; it can grow in water up to 5 metres deep. It is usually found in shallower water than the white water lily, and often in beaver ponds. Since the flooded soils are deficient in oxygen, aerenchyma in the leaves and rhizome transport oxygen to the rhizome. Often there is mass flow from the young leaves into the rhizome, and out through the older leaves. The rhizomes are often consumed by muskrats. The flower is solitary, terminal, held above the water surface; it is hermaphrodite, 2–4 cm diameter, with five or six large bright yellow sepals and numerous small yellow petals largely concealed by the sepals. Flowering is from June to September, and pollination is entomophilous, by flies attracted to the alcoholic scent. The flower is followed by a green bottle-shaped fruit, containing numerous seeds which are dispersed by water currents. The species is less tolerant of water pollution than water-lilies in the genus Nymphaea.
Some botanists have treated Nuphar lutea as the sole species in Nuphar, including all the other species in it as subspecies and giving the species a holarctic range, but the genus is now more usually divided into eight species (see Nuphar for details).
On Eglinton Loch, North Ayrshire, Scotland
- Flora Europaea: Nuphar lutea
- USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network: Nuphar lutea
- Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. ISBN 0-340-40170-2
- Dacey, J. W. H. (1981). Pressurized ventilation in the yellow water lily. Ecology, 62, 1137–47.
- Beal, E. O. (1956). Taxonomic revision of the genus Nuphar Sm. of North America and Europe. Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 72: 317–346.
- "Plants Profile: Nuphar lutea". Natural Resources Conservation Service. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
- USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network: Nuphar
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