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Spatterdock, Cow Lily

Nuphar luteum


Spatterdock is a perennial plant with leaves that arise from a large spongy rhizome. The leaves have a slit that makes them roughly heart-shaped, 8 to 16 inches long by 10 inches wide, and can float on the surface or stand above the surface on thick round (in cross section) stalks. Flowers are spiracle with 6 to 9 green sepals and yellow petals. Flowers can float on the water or stand above it. Fruits are oval with a flat top and greenish or yellowish in color. Spatterdock can spread from seeds or the rhizomes.

Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. This invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, ducks, etc). After aquatic plants die, their decomposition by bacteria and fungi provides food (called “detritus”) for many aquatic invertebrates. Spatterdock is grazed by deer while the rhizomes are consumed by beavers, muskrats, and nutria. Seeds are consumed by ducks and other waterfowl.