Yellow Pond-lily (Lutea)

The Yellow Pond-lily (Lutea) is generally described as a perennial forb/herb. This is native to the U.S. (United States) .

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Ethnobotanic: Native Americans consumed the starchy rootstocks as boiled or roasted vegetables and harvested the seed for grinding into flour. There are some accounts of the root being powdered and used as a poultice.

Wildlife: Yellow pond-lily provides food and shelter for many fish and underwater insects.

Ornamental: Yellow pond-lily flowers and leaves are showy and fragrant. For this reason, it is used as an ornamental planting in water gardens and ponds.

General Characteristics

General: Water Lily Family (Nymphaeaceae). Yellow pond-lily is an aquatic perennial that grows to be 15 to 60 cm in height and spreads 1 to 2 m on the water surface. Spongy rhizomes anchor into the muddy bottom of a water body and give rise to long, stout stems. Submerged leaves are thin and attached to the rhizomes. Floating leaves are thick, somewhat heart-shaped, wavy along the margins, have up to a 40 cm spread, and are attached to the stems. Flowers emerge on separate stem stalks. They are cup-shaped, yellow-green, with small scale-like petals and numberous stamens and stigmas hidden within the thick showy sepals. Flowers bloom from May to October, partially opening in the morning and closing at night. Spent flowers give way to seed heads that burst upon ripening, broadcasting their seeds over the water surface. Flowers and leaf stems die back to the rhizome in autumn.

Yellow pond-lily may be confused with water lily, Nymphaea species, which have rounder leaves and showier pink to white flowers.

Required Growing Conditions

Yellow pond-lily is native to the Eastern United States, Africa, Temperate Asia, the West Indies, and Europe. It is naturalized in most temperate regions of North America. It occurs in all 50 states except Hawaii. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site ( Habitat: Yellow pond-lily occurs in slow-moving streams, still ponds, and lakes.

Adaptation The USDA hardiness zones for yellow pond-lily are 4 to 10. It grows in wet, poor sandy soils and performs best in 1 to 3 feet of water in full sun to part shade. It is more tolerant of shade and deep water than Nymphaea species.

It is more often used in large water gardens and ponds where it can produce underwater stems that grow up to 2 m long and can slowly spread to form sizeable colonies.


Yellow pond-lily is a noxious aquatic weed in Puerto Rico.

General Upkeep and Control


Plant Basics
General Type Forb/herb
Growth Duration Perennial
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA