Yellow water lily

Yellow water lily

Nymphaea mexicana

Common Name:

Yellow water lily

Scientific Name:

Nymphaea mexicana

Alternative common names:

Banana water lily and Mexican water lily.


An aquatic plant with bright yellow flowers. Leaf blades and flowers appear above the water level. Leaves with wavy margins spread on the water surface. The yellow flowers open during the day and close at night. It grows in marshes and readily invades canals and other shallow waterways, sometimes becoming a nuisance.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

South-eastern regions of the United States of America and Mexico.

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 1b.

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

It has invaded rivers and dams, and the banks of the Vaal River in Sasolburg in the Free State and Vanderbijpark in Gauteng.

How does it spread?

It spreads by rhizome encroachment, movement of fragmented pieces and by seed.

Why is it a problem?

It invades wetlands where it has become a noxious weed. It can totally invade slow-running waterways or lakes, choking out native plants and slowing water flow. Yellow water lily can also stop all recreational use of the waterway.

What does it look like?

Leaves: Green leaves with wavy margins, spreading on the water surface or almost erect when crowded.

Flowers: The yellowish-green flowers can reach 12cm across and appear from spring to autumn.

Fruit/seeds: Green, bottle-shaped fruit.

Does the plant have any uses?


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