Yellow water-lily

Yellow Water-lily

©Northeast Wildlife

Yellow water-lily

Scientific name: Nuphar lutea
Look for the Yellow water-lily in still and slow-moving water, such as ponds, ditches, lakes and canals. Its lily pads and cupped, yellow flowers float at the water's surface.

Species information


Spread: up to 1.5m

Conservation status


When to see

June to September


The Yellow water-lily is a common plant of still or slow-moving water and grows in ponds, lakes, canals and ditches. It has large, lily-pad leaves that are up to 40cm across, and grows in water up to 3m deep; the leaves and flowers float at the surface, while the rest of the plant is submerged, growing from the mud at the bottom. It flowers during the summer, from June to September, and smells like the dregs of wine, hence other common names like 'Brandy Bottle'. Water-lilies are good plants to add to a wildlife-friendly pond, providing shelter for frogs and early nectar for insects.

How to identify

The Yellow water-lily has oval, leathery, floating leaves. It has yellow, cupped flowers that are borne on stalks just above the water. The White water-lily has rounder leaves and a larger, whiter flower.



Did you know?

The ornamental nature of the Yellow Water-lily meant that it suffered at the hands of 18th century 'lily-scrumpers' who attempted to collect the lilies for garden ponds.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.