Nuphar X rubrodisca (Intermediate Pond-lily)

Plant Info
Also known as: Red-disk Pond-lily, Yellow Pond-lily
Family:Nymphaeaceae (Water-lily)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; quiet waters; lakes, ponds, slow streams
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:to 7 feet deep water
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: none MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: 6-petals

[photo of flower] A single flower 1 to 2 inches across on a stout stalk floating on or rising above the water. Flowers are globular with 5 or 6 round bright yellow sepals that may be green on the outer surface near the base and may be dark red on the inside near the base. In the center are numerous yellow petals with dozens of similarly shaped stamens spirally arranged around a yellow central column. At the tip of the column is a red disk that typically has 8 to 15 rays, the edges of the disk straight to shallowly indented between the rays.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are oval-oblong, 4 to 10 inches long, about 1½ times as long as wide, with a rounded tip and deep cleft at the base, the lobes at the base rounded and about half as long as blade's midrib. The basal lobes may be slightly separated, the gap between them (sinus) forming a narrow “V”, or the lobes may overlap.

[photo of flat leaf stalk and overlapping basal lobes] Leaf stalks are flat and ribbon-like. Leaves are flat and float on the surface, occasionally submersed. The lower surface is often purplish on new leaves, the upper surface green to purplish.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

Fruit, when formed, is a round to oval capsule ½ to 1 inch long, strongly ribbed and usually purplish brown, the red disk persisting at the tip and the capsule constricted just below it, the constriction up to 3/8 inch (10mm) in diameter.


Intermediate or Red-disk Pond-lily is a natural hybrid between Yellow Pond-lily (Nuphar variegata) and Small Pond-lily (Nuphar microphylla), long suspected but recent DNA testing supports the lineage. It may be fertile or sterile and has characteristics intermediate between the parents:

  • Flower 1 inch or more diameter, where N. variegata is up to 2½ inches and N. microphylla is ¾ inch or less.
  • Leaf size 4 to 10 inches, the narrow sinus half as long as the midrib, similar to N. variegata where N. microphylla leaves are 4 inches or less with a wider sinus 2/3 as long as the midrib.
  • Leaf stalk flat and ribbon-like, similar to N. varietata where N. microphylla stalks are flat to round in cross-section.
  • Red disk at the tip of the flower's central column usually with 8 to 15 rays, similar to N. microphylla except 6 to 11 rays and more deeply scalloped edges, where N. variegata has a yellow to greenish disk with up to 28 rays.

The red disk is the more obvious difference between N. ×rubrodisca and N. variegata. The differences with N. microphylla flowers are more subtle but the leaf and flower sizes should be the more obvious distinctions.

Please visit our sponsors

  • Minnesota Goose Garden

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants
  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Spangle Creek Labs - Native orchids, lab propagated

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Cook County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin and Cook counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.