Rumor has it that Native American people roasted the starchy roots of this particular species of water-lily, peeled them, and ate them in a stew-like soup. If not roasted or boiled, they ground them into flour. However, Nuphar polysepalym grows in four to five feet of water, so harvesting the roots required the difficult task of diving, and thus, the highly edible plant became a prized commodity, and their stashes often prone to raids from neighboring tribes.
The huge, smooth, green leaves float on ponds and shallow lakes, ranging from northern Alaska southward to New Mexico, and produce a beautiful, brilliant yellow, waxy-looking flower, sometimes up to five inches across. Seeds placed in a pan, and set over heat, swell and pop like popcorn.
Medicinal uses ranged from baking the root stock to poultice ulcerated skin, to grinding the root stocks, boiling them and adding to bath water, which worked well to relieve rheumatism.
Enjoy more prints of nature photossuggested reading: A Field Guide to Pacific States Wildflowers: Washington, Oregon, California and adjacent areas Common Edible and Useful Plants of the West (Outdoor and Nature)