Yellow water lily

Nuphar lutea

Common name:

Yellow water lily

Scientific name:

Nuphar lutea

Alternative common names:

Spatter dock, cow lily, brandy bottle (English)

This aquatic plant prefers shallow water up to 5m deep. It produces solitary yellow flowers protruding on a stalk above the water, 2-4cm in diameter with 5 or 6 large yellow sepals and many small yellow petals. Flowers during summer and have an alcoholic scent which attracts flies – hence its alternative name of brandy bottle.

Additional Info

  • Where does this species come from?

    Indigenous to temperate regions of Europe, north-west Africa and western Asia.

    What is its invasive status in South Africa?

    NEMBA Category 1a.

    Where in South Africa is it a problem?

    Not yet naturalised in South Africa but known to be invasive elsewhere.

    How does it spread?

    Seed dispersal.

    Why is it a problem?

    This plant has broad flat leaves which float on the surface and therefore block out sunlight to aquatic indigenous plants. They compete against indigenous species for the same resources.

    What does it look like?

    Leaves:Large, rounded flat leaves which float on the water surface. Yellow-green to lemon green in colour. Flowers: Solitary yellow flower protruding on a stalk above the water, 2-4cm in diameter with 5 or 6 large yellow sepals and many small yellow petals. Flowers during summer and have an alcoholic scent which attracts flies – hence its alternative name of brandy bottle. Fruit/seeds: Green, bottle-shaped fruit.

    Does the plant have any uses?

    Planted as a garden pond ornamental.