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Spatterdock or Yellow Water Lily

Spatterdock or Yellow Water Lily

Nuphar species


This plant has leaves up to 60 centimeters long with a triangular notch at the base. The shape of the leaves is somewhat variable. The plant’s yellow flowers are 2.5 centimeter across and develop into bottle-shaped fruits. The fruits are green when ripe.

Habitat and Distribution

These plants grow throughout most of North America. They are found in quiet, fresh, shallow water (never deeper than 1.8 meters).

Edible Parts

All parts of the plant are edible. The fruits contain several dark brown seeds you can parch or roast and then grind into flour. 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 in several changes of water may remove the bitterness.

Steve's notes:

Spatterdock or yellow water lily often has leaves that are more classically lily-pad-shaped than the ones in the photo.

I can say from experience that it can be more trouble than it's worth to get the bitterness out of the rootstocks. However, since the bitterness may vary from one variety or location to another, this is a plant worth knowing. You can collect many pounds of the roots in a short time.


The Ultralight Backpacking Site | Spatterdock or Yellow Water Lily