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Fringed Water Lily

Nymphoides peltata

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Menyanthaceae (Bogbean)
Also in this family:
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
2 metres long
Ditches, fens, gardens, ponds, swamps, water, wetland.

Yellow, 5 petals
The flowers of Fringed Water Lily are held about 2 or 3 inches above the surface of the water on long stalks. Its 5 fringed petals are small and round. This species is not a true Water Lily. Pollinated by bees, butterflies and moths.
The fruitlets of fringed water lilies typically develop as small, round capsules. These capsules contain numerous tiny seeds and are produced after successful pollination. The fruits are buoyant and may aid in the dispersion of seeds in aquatic environments. Each fruitlet is attached to the receptacle, and when mature, it releases its seeds into the water, contributing to the plant's reproductive cycle. In fruit from August to October.
A perennial aquatic plant with heart-shaped leaves, up to 15cm across. The plant reaches a maximum of 25cm above the surface of the water in which it grows. Shallowly toothed leaf margins. The leaves are mat-forming and deciduous.
The fringed water lily is known to emit a mild and pleasant fragrance. The scent, often delicate and subtle, adds to the overall allure of the plant, especially when in bloom. The fragrance contributes to the sensory experience of individuals enjoying aquatic environments or water gardens where these water lilies are cultivated. However, the specific scent can vary among different water lily species and may be more noticeable in certain environmental conditions.
Other Names:
Dwarf Water Lily, Entire Marshwort, Floating Heart, Fringe, Fringed Buckbean, Small Yellow Water Lily, Water Fringe, Yellow Floating Heart.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Nymphoides peltata, also known as Yellow Floatingheart, is a perennial herb that grows in lakes, ponds, swamps and channels with slow-moving water. It is native to Asia, Australia, and North America and is an aggressive invader of slow-moving and still waters. It has leaves that are rounded and heart-shaped and yellow flowers with five or six petals. It is often used in aquariums as an ornamental plant.


Fringed water-lily, also known as Nymphoides peltata, is a beautiful aquatic plant native to Asia, Europe, and North America. This plant is well-known for its stunning floating leaves and delicate, white or yellow fringed flowers. It is a great addition to any pond or water garden, and its beauty is further enhanced by the fact that it blooms from spring to fall.

The fringed water-lily has round leaves that are green in color and are usually 4-8 inches in diameter. These leaves are attached to the stem of the plant by long petioles, which allow the leaves to float on the surface of the water. The leaves have a slight leathery texture and are slightly curved at the edges, which gives them a scalloped appearance.

The flowers of the fringed water-lily are typically white or yellow, with fringed petals that resemble delicate, lacy doilies. The flowers are usually 2-3 inches in diameter and are arranged in clusters of 1-3 on long stalks that rise above the surface of the water. The blooms are very fragrant and are a popular food source for many species of bees and other pollinators.

The fringed water-lily is a hardy plant that is easy to grow and maintain. It is best suited for still or slow-moving water, as it does not tolerate fast-moving currents. It prefers a full sun to partial shade location, and it prefers a depth of 6-18 inches of water. The plant is propagated through division of the rootstocks in the spring or early summer.

Fringed water-lily is not only beautiful but also has a number of benefits. It helps to reduce algae growth by shading the water and reducing the amount of sunlight that reaches the bottom of the pond. It also provides habitat and shelter for many species of aquatic animals, including frogs, dragonflies, and water birds.

In conclusion, fringed water-lily, Nymphoides peltata, is a beautiful and hardy aquatic plant that is perfect for any pond or water garden. With its stunning floating leaves and delicate flowers, this plant is sure to add beauty and interest to any aquatic landscape. So, if you're looking to add some life to your pond, be sure to add fringed water-lily to your list of must-have plants!

In addition to its beauty and ecological benefits, fringed water-lily has a number of cultural and historical significance as well. In traditional Chinese medicine, the plant was used to treat a variety of ailments, including skin problems, digestive issues, and menstrual pain. In ancient Greece and Rome, the plant was associated with the water nymphs and was considered a symbol of purity and grace.

Fringed water-lily is also a popular subject in art and literature, appearing in the works of many famous artists, including Claude Monet and John James Audubon. The plant has inspired poems and songs, and has been depicted in countless paintings, drawings, and photographs.

One of the unique features of fringed water-lily is its ability to adapt to its environment. It can grow in a wide range of water conditions, from still ponds to slow-moving streams, and it can survive in both warm and cold climates. This adaptability has made the plant a popular choice for water gardens and pond landscapes all over the world.

Finally, fringed water-lily is also an important source of food for many species of waterfowl and other birds. The plant's leaves and roots are a rich source of nutrition, and its seeds and flowers provide food for many species of insects, including bees and butterflies. This makes fringed water-lily an important component of healthy aquatic ecosystems and a valuable resource for conservation efforts.

In conclusion, fringed water-lily, Nymphoides peltata, is a beautiful, adaptable, and culturally significant aquatic plant that offers numerous benefits to both gardeners and the environment. Whether you are looking to add some beauty to your pond, create a habitat for wildlife, or explore the cultural and historical significance of this remarkable plant, fringed water-lily is definitely worth considering.

In terms of maintenance, fringed water-lily is relatively low-maintenance, making it an ideal choice for pond gardeners of all skill levels. The plant prefers a well-drained soil and regular fertilization, but it is otherwise hardy and easy to care for. To keep the plant healthy and vigorous, it is important to remove any dead or yellowing leaves regularly, as well as any spent flowers. This will help to prevent the buildup of decaying plant matter in the pond, which can encourage the growth of algae and other unwanted aquatic plants.

It is also important to keep an eye on the growth of the fringed water-lily, as it can spread rapidly and take over a pond if left unchecked. Regular division of the rootstock is one way to prevent this, and it can also help to keep the plant healthy and encourage it to bloom more profusely.

In terms of pests and diseases, fringed water-lily is relatively resistant to most pests and diseases. However, it can be susceptible to fungal infections, especially if the water quality is poor or the soil is too wet. To prevent fungal infections, it is important to keep the water clean and to provide adequate drainage. If you do notice any signs of infection, it is important to treat it promptly to prevent it from spreading to other plants in the pond.

Finally, it is worth noting that fringed water-lily is not only a beautiful and practical plant, but it is also a great choice for wildlife gardening. By providing habitat and food for a variety of aquatic and terrestrial animals, fringed water-lily can help to create a thriving and diverse ecosystem in your pond or water garden. So if you are looking for a plant that will not only add beauty to your pond but also support the local wildlife, fringed water-lily is definitely worth considering.

In conclusion, fringed water-lily, Nymphoides peltata, is a beautiful and adaptable aquatic plant that is perfect for any pond or water garden. With its delicate flowers and floating leaves, fringed water-lily is sure to add beauty and interest to any aquatic landscape, and its low-maintenance requirements and resistance to pests and diseases make it a great choice for gardeners of all skill levels.

30 Fringed Water Lily Facts

  1. Scientific Name: Nymphoides peltata is the accurate scientific name for the fringed water lily.

  2. Habitat: Fringed water lilies (Nymphoides peltata) thrive in shallow freshwater habitats, such as ponds, lakes, and slow-moving streams.

  3. Blooming Season: These water lilies typically bloom during the summer and early fall, displaying delicate and attractive flowers.

  4. Leaf Characteristics: The leaves of Nymphoides peltata are round to heart-shaped, often with distinctive fringed edges, giving them their common name.

  5. Flower Colors: The flowers of Nymphoides peltata come in various colors, including white, yellow, and shades of pink.

  6. Size: The size of Nymphoides peltata can vary, with leaves ranging from a few inches to over a foot in diameter, depending on the species.

  7. Rhizomatous Growth: These water lilies grow from rhizomes, which are horizontal, underground stems that give rise to both roots and shoots.

  8. Adaptation to Still Waters: Nymphoides peltata is well adapted to still waters and can thrive in environments with minimal water movement.

  9. Ecological Importance: Fringed water lilies provide habitat and shade for various aquatic organisms, contributing to the overall biodiversity of freshwater ecosystems.

  10. Pollination: Flowers of Nymphoides peltata are pollinated by insects, especially bees, attracted to the vibrant colors and sweet nectar.

  11. Dormancy: During the winter months, Nymphoides peltata may enter a period of dormancy, regenerating from the rhizome in the following growing season.

  12. Cultural Significance: In various cultures, water lilies, including Nymphoides peltata, hold symbolic meanings such as purity, enlightenment, and rebirth.

  13. Hydrophytic Adaptation: Nymphoides peltata is a hydrophytic plant, well-adapted to living in aquatic environments.

  14. Floating Leaves: The leaves of Nymphoides peltata float on the water's surface, capturing sunlight for photosynthesis.

  15. Fragrance: Some species of Nymphoides peltata emit a mild, pleasant fragrance, enhancing their allure in garden and aquatic settings.

  16. Varieties: There are several species and varieties of Nymphoides peltata, each with unique characteristics and adaptations.

  17. Aquatic Weed Control: In some cases, Nymphoides peltata can become invasive, requiring control measures to prevent dominance in water bodies.

  18. Medicinal Uses: In traditional medicine, parts of the Nymphoides peltata plant are sometimes used for their potential medicinal properties.

  19. Tuber Formation: The rhizomes of Nymphoides peltata can form tubers, aiding in nutrient storage and survival during adverse conditions.

  20. Global Distribution: Nymphoides peltata is found in various parts of the world, with different species adapted to specific regions and climates.

  21. Cultivation in Water Gardens: Many gardening enthusiasts cultivate Nymphoides peltata in ponds and water gardens for their aesthetic appeal.

  22. Aquatic Invertebrate Habitat: The submerged portions of Nymphoides peltata provide habitat and protection for aquatic invertebrates.

  23. Threats: Human activities, pollution, and habitat destruction can pose threats to the populations of Nymphoides peltata in some regions.

  24. Photosynthesis: Nymphoides peltata plays a role in nutrient cycling and oxygen production through the process of photosynthesis.

  25. Folklore: In some cultures, water lilies, including Nymphoides peltata, are featured in folklore and mythology, symbolizing different aspects of life.

  26. Winter Adaptation: Some species of Nymphoides peltata have adaptations to survive in colder climates, such as developing winter buds.

  27. Vegetative Reproduction: Nymphoides peltata can reproduce vegetatively through the growth of new plants from fragments of the rhizome.

  28. Conservation Concerns: Certain species of Nymphoides peltata may be listed as threatened or endangered, prompting conservation efforts to protect their natural habitats.

  29. Interactions with Fish: The floating leaves of Nymphoides peltata provide shelter and shade for fish in aquatic ecosystems.

  30. Artistic Inspiration: The beauty of Nymphoides peltata has inspired artists and photographers, contributing to their representation in various art forms.


Fringed Water Lilies filmed at the Lancaster Canal in Capernwray, Lancashire on the 8th July 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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