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Great Yellow Pond-lily
Nuphar polysepala
About Great Yellow Pond-lily (Nuphar polysepala) 0 Nurseries Carry This Plant Nuphar polysepala (the great yellow pond-lily or wokas; syn. Nuphar polysepalum orth. err. , Nuphar lutea subsp. polysepala (Engelm. ) E. O. Beal) is a species of Nuphar native to western North America. The name Nuphar is Greek for "water-lily" and polysepala means many sepals. It is commonly found in shallow muddy ponds from northern Alaska and Yukon southward to central California and northern New Mexico, and can be recognized easily by its large floating leaves and bright yellow blossoms. It reproduces by both seed and rhizome. The rhizomes are underground stems that are thick and fleshy. These rhizomes are hard to pry since they are submerged in mud and are difficult to dig. The leaves float on the water surface, and have an external waxy coating which makes the leaf waterproof and thus allows the leaf stomata to breathe freely; they are glossy green, oval, 10-45 cm long and 7-30 cm wide, with a notch at one side to the leaf stem. The leaves provide shelter for fish. The rhizomes (underground stems) are round and submerged in mud. Flowers and fruit. The flowers are 5-10 cm diameter, and have 6 to 12 (most often 9) bright yellow petal-like sepals; the true petals are small, hidden near the stamens. Inside the flower from top view anthers can be seen as red and true petals are wedge-shaped and are hidden by the stamens. The fruit is a ovoid green to yellowish capsule 4-6 cm (rarely 9 cm) long 3. 5-6 cm wide. They were a significant source of carbohydrates for the Klamath and Modoc peoples who inhabited the area near Oregon's Upper Klamath Lake. Medicinal. Leaves and rootstocks have been used for ulcerous skin conditions and swelling. The rootstock infusion is used as a traditional gargle for mouth, sore throats and douche for vaginal inflammation. The rootstock is prepared from two tablespoon chopped rhizome with one cup boiling water .
Plant Description
Plant Type
Plant Type
Perennial herb

1.3 ft tall

Flower Color
Flower Color

Landscaping Information
Full Sun

Common uses
Common uses
Bogs and Ponds

Sunset Zones
Sunset Zones?
1, 2, 3, 4*, 5*, 6*, 7*, 8, 9, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Natural Setting
Site Type
Site Type
Ponds, slow streams

Annual Precipitation: 12.4" - 130.5", Summer Precipitation: 0.18" - 4.43", Coldest Month: 25.1" - 53.1", Hottest Month: 49.1" - 77.4", Humidity: 0.01" - 22.52", Elevation: -3" - 8282"

Alternative Names
Common Names: Wokas

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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