Brief Summary

Nuphar, the pond-lilies, is a genus of about 10 to 12 species of aquatic flowering herbaceous plants in the Nymphaceae (water-lily family), widely distributed in temperate regions of North America, Europe, and Asia, with most species native to North America. Also called spatterdock, yellow pond-lily, cow lily, bullhead lily, water collard, and marsh collard, the genus is not as widely used for ornamental planting in water gardens as the closely related genus, Nymphaea (which is in the same family), but it does include some species and cultivars that are planted in aquariums and outdoor ponds for their beautiful submerged leaves. The rhizomes were widely used by Native Americans for food.

The taxonomy of Nuphar is difficult and under revision, so the number of species is not clear. Previous classifications included as many as 26 species; later revisions reduced the number to 2, but it appears that molecular evidence supports an intermediate number.

Nuphar differs from Nymphaea in floral structure. The showy parts of flowers—which are reminiscent of large buttercups—consist not of petals, but of 5–14 petal-like green to yellow sepals (to orange-red, in N. japonica), sometimes tinged with crimson or red; the petals are minute and threadlike, barely visible. The stigma is large and flattened into a disk, with 5 or more segments. Flowers are generally held 2–30 cm (1–12 inches) above the water, and fruit also develops above the water, in contrast to Nymphaea, in which the flower sinks after blooming and fruit develops submerged in water. Nuphar species generally bloom during the day. Depending on the species, leaves may be nearly round to egg-shaped to lanceolate (lance-shaped), raging in size from 8–41 cm (3–16 inches) long, and may be held above the water, floating, or submersed.

Nuphar typically grows rooted in mud in shallow ponds or at the edges of lakes and slow-moving rivers or streams, in water up to 3 m (10 feet) deep. Native to Eastern North America, Nuphar species are sometimes weedy, and are now naturalized and found in all of the U.S. except Hawaii, and in all Canadian provinces.

Native Americans used Nuphar rhizomes as a boiled or roasted vegetable, or dried and ground into flour. Seeds were eaten raw, ground into flour, or popped. Tea made from the roots was used to treat diarrhea, and a poultice from the roots was used to treat inflammation, boils, and tumors.

(Bailey et al. 1976, Everett 1981, FNA 2011, Moermann 2003, PFAF 2011, Slocum 2005, USDA/NRCS 2011)

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In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / miner
larva (young) of Elophila nympheata mines live leaf of Nuphar
Remarks: season: summer+

Plant / resting place / on
adult of Plateumaris sericea may be found on flower of Nuphar
Remarks: season: (1-)6(-12)


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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:43
Specimens with Sequences:52
Specimens with Barcodes:41
Species With Barcodes:13
Public Records:19
Public Species:12
Public BINs:0
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Barcode data

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Nuphar is genus of aquatic plants in the family Nymphaeaceae, with a temperate to subarctic Northern Hemisphere distribution. Common names include water-lily (Eurasian species; shared with many other genera in the same family), pond-lily, and spatterdock (North American species).

A total of eight species and three hybrids are currently accepted in the genus.[1] A few botanists treat the genus as just a single variable species (for which the European name N. lutea has priority),[2][3] while 10–12 or more species are accepted by some other authorities.[4] Recent molecular work has shown that there are substantial differences between the Eurasian species (sect. Nuphar) and American species (sect. Astylus), except for North American N. microphylla which is clusters with the Eurasian species.[4][5]

The genus is closely related to Nymphaea. Nuphar differs in having its petals being much smaller than its 4-6 bright yellow-coloured sepals, whereas in Nymphaea, the petals are much larger than the sepals. The fruit maturation also differs, with Nuphar fruit being held above water level to maturity, whereas Nymphaea fruit sink below the water level immediately after the flower closes. Both genera share leaves with a radial notch from the circumference to the petiole (leaf stem) in the centre.



  • Nuphar × rubrodisca Morong (N. microphylla × N. variegata)
  • Nuphar × saijoensis (Shimoda) Padgett (N. japonica × N. pumila)
  • Nuphar × spenneriana Gaudin (N. lutea × N. pumila)


Nuphar species occur in ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers, growing in water up to 5 metres deep; different species show adaptation to either nutrient-rich waters (e.g. N. lutea) or nutrient-poor waters (e.g. N. pumila).[6]

Alkaloids in the genus include nupharolutine, nuphamine and nupharidine.[7]


The etymology of the word is: medieval Latin nuphar, from medieval Latin nenuphar, thence from Arabic nīnūfar, thence from Persian nīlūfar, thence from Sanskrit nīlōtpala = blue lotus flower.[8] For botanical gender, the name is treated as feminine.[1][4]


"Field" of Nuphar on a small lake, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
  1. ^ a b USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network: Nuphar
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ USDA Plants Profile Nuphar
  4. ^ a b c Wiersema, J. H.; Hellquist, C. B. (1997). "Nymphaeaceae". Flora of North America 3. 
  5. ^ Padgett, D. J. (2007). A Monograph of Nuphar (Nymphaeaceae). Rhodora 109: 1–95 full text.
  6. ^ Blamey, M. & Grey-Wilson, C. (1989). Flora of Britain and Northern Europe. ISBN 0-340-40170-2
  7. ^ Wrobel, J. T., Iwanow, A., Braekman-Danheux, C., Martin, T. I., & MacLean, D. B. (1972). The Structure of Nupharolutine, an Alkaloid of Nuphar luteum. Canad. J. Chem. 50: 1831–1837 full text.
  8. ^ Etymololgy of Nuphar, same as French Nenuphar (in French).
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