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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Watershield - Brasenia schreberi

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S1S2
(see State Rank Reason below)
State Threat Score: Unknown
CCVI: Less Vulnerable
C-value: 9

Agency Status
USFS: Sensitive - Known in Forests (KOOT, LOLO)


External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Restricted in Montana to shallow waters in the valleys of the northwest corner of the state where it is known from eight occurrences, including six relatively high quality populations. Potential threats to the species include boating activity, aquatic weeds, and several populations are subject to runoff from adjacent agricultural fields, though it is uncertain if this has negatively impacted any populations.
General Description
Watershield is a rhizomatous perennial aquatic herb with branches which rise through the water, floating leafblades (lily pads), and emergent flowers. The leaves have long petioles attached alternately to the branches and centrally to the undersides of the floating leaf blades. The broadly elliptic to oval leaf blades are 4-12 cm long and 3-8 cm wide. Solitary flowers are held just above the water on long peduncles. The flowers usually have 3 sepals and 3 petals which are similar, translucent reddish-purple colored, linear to lance-shaped, and 1-1.5 cm long. There are 4-14 pistils and 12-36 purplish stamens which are about the same length as the petals and sepals. The leathery, beaked fruits are 6-8 mm long and mature underwater.

Flowering in August.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Distinguished from other water lilies (Nuphar and Nymphea) by its relatively small, purplish, many pistilled flowers and by its relatively small, truly peltate (with petiole attached to the center of the blade) leaves.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Most of North America, widespread in other parts of the world except Europe. Sparse.

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 86

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Shallow water of lakes, sloughs, and slow-moving rivers in the valley zone.
Predicted Suitable Habitat Model

This species has a Predicted Suitable Habitat Model available.

To learn how these Models were created see

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Commonly Associated with these Ecological Systems
    Wetland and Riparian Systems

Threats or Limiting Factors
Reported threats to Montana’s populations of Watershield are currently assigned as unknown. Motorboat recreation likely threatens plants or populations where they occur at some lakes, but the locations where this threat is relevant is not known (MTNHP Threat Assessment 2021). Information on the scope of this threat is needed to assess its relative risk to Watershield populations.

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • Frodge, J. D., Thomas, G. L. and G. B. Pauley. 1990. Effects of canopy formation by floating and submergent aquatic macrophytes on the water quality of two shallow Pacific Northwest lakes. Aquatic Botany 38:231-248.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
    • Raymond, M., and P. Dansereau. 1953. The geographical distribution of the bipolar Nymphaeaceae, Nymphaea tetragona, and Brasenia schreberi. Memoires du Jardin Botanique de Montreal 41: 1-10.
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Citation for data on this website:
Watershield — Brasenia schreberi.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from