Yellow Pond Lilly


One of Handbook of Nature Study’s challenges this past month is to study a plant in your yard – we choose the Yellow Pond-Lily, Nuhar polysepalum, Spatterdock, Cow-Lily.

In early June, the lily pads appear along the shore lines of the lake and small inlet above.   The leaves are floating in a pretty heart shape. Our water is 2-5 feet deep, and some of them do not grow to to top. Jon noticed that the more slender the stalk and smaller the leaf, the shorter the shoot seems to grow.

Looking up the plant in the Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska by Pojar & Mackinnon (981.9711 PLA), we learned that it is also called a Yellow Waterlilly.  The description goes on to say that “The Haida sill use water lily root medicine for numerous illnesses, including colds, tuberculosis, internal pains, ulcers, rheumatism, chest pains, heart conditions and cancer.” Which is interesting – not only as a cure but that the boys and I are registered Tlingit Haida Tribal members from Alaska. Cool!

Moving on to The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock, we see that the water lily has inspired many poems and is used for study of geography. 

“Whence O fragrant form of light,
Hast thou drifted through the night
Swanlike, to a leafy nest,
On the restless waves at rest.

  • Where is the water lily found? How deep is the water?
  • What is the shape of the leaf?
  • Examine the petiole – How long is it?
  • Examine the open flower, how many sepals?
  • Describe the pistil. How are the stamens placed around the pistil? What happens to the seed box after the blossoms have faded?
  • What sort of seed has the water lily?

Jon spent many an hour this month paddling around the lilys.  We discovered that the underbelly of the lily pad is home to many bug eggs and larvae. The trout, bass and bull heads seem to congregate under their shade and nibble at the leaves. When we had our frogs, they REALLY liked to pick the leaves clean.




He went out several times to gather specimens.  They are bad for boats and jet ski’s so he pulled quite a few away from our neighbor’s dock for them.  We have seen jet ski’s stop quick when their motors get caught up. Early June was still a bit cold to dive in the lake to free a propeller!




Jon was full of observations throughout the month, which pulled the rest of the family into the ongoing conversation.  We never did get around to sketching the pods, but we spent a lot of time handling and observing them. Now, they are places for the baby birds/ducks to hide out and shade for the trout.

I share our Lifecycle of a Pondlily photos in the next post . . . The Life of a Water Lily.

What plant are you studying in your yard this month?Handbook

Join us in the conversation at Handbook of Nature study. Blogpot. Com!

About +Angie Wright

The Transparent Thoughts of an Unschooling Family of Boys - Answering the question - What DO you DO all day?
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2 Responses to Yellow Pond Lilly

  1. I agree with Barb, this is such a good example of nature study. I can understand how the Lilly can be a bother, but oh, isn’t it so beautiful?

  2. What an awesome study! I love all the different layers of observation, research, and up-close experiences. I love all your images as well, tells a great story. Thank you so much for sharing your nature study with the Handbook of Nature Study…such a great example. 🙂

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