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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Pygmy Water-lily - Nymphaea leibergii
Other Names:  Nymphaea tetragona ssp. leibergii

Species of Concern
Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S1
(see State Rank Reason below)
State Threat Score: No Known Threats
C-value: 9

Agency Status


External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Known from 4 extant occurrences in western valleys and one historical collection from Salmon Lake in the Seeley Lake area. Populations are susceptible to impacts from development, recreation, siltation and aquatic weeds.
General Description
Pygmy Water-lily is an herbaceous perennial with submergent stems and floating leaves arising from a thick rhizome. The leaves have a long, slender petiole attached to the base of a long, v-shaped notch in the elliptic blades that are 7-10 cm long. The bowl-shaped flowers have long, slender stalks and float on the surface of the water. Each flower has 4 light green, narrowly elliptic sepals that are 2-3 cm long and 7-15 white, narrowly lance-shaped petals of the same length. There are 30-45 yellowish stamens, and the stigma is large and saucer-shaped. The fruit is woody and berry-like.

Flowering in late July-August.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Nymphaea leibergii occurs from northern Maine and Quebec west to British Columbia, and south to Michigan (Isle Royale), Minnesota, and Montana. Historical in Idaho. Currently reported as very common in Alaska by Heritage records. According to Wiersema (1995), however, plants in Alaska are all N. tetragona ssp. tetragona, and N. tetragona ssp. leibergii does not occur in Alaska.

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 28

(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)

Quiet, fresh water of lakes and backwater sloughs in the valleys.
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

The following animal species have been reported as pollinators of this plant species or its genus where their geographic ranges overlap: Bombus vagans (Colla and Dumesh 2010).

Threats or Limiting Factors
Threat impact not assigned because threats are not known (MTNHP Threat Assessment 2021).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Colla, S.R. and S. Dumesh. 2010. The bumble bees of southern Ontario: notes on natural history and distribution. Journal of the Entomological Society of Ontario 141:39-68.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Bursik, R. J., and R. K. Moseley. 1992. Vegetation and water chemistry monitoring and twenty-year floristic changes at Huff Lake Fen, Kaniksu National Forest. Cooperative Challenge Cost-share Project, Idaho Panhandle National Forests and Idaho Conservation Data Center, Idaho Department of Fish and Game. 27 pp.
    • 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.
    • Porsild, A.E. 1939. Nymphaea tetragona georgi in Canada. The Canadian Field-Naturalist 53: 48-50.
    • Schuyler, A. E. 1983. Distributional notes on northwestern Montana aquatic vascular plants - 1982. Bartonia. 43:52-54.
    • Wiersema, J.H. 1997. Nymphaea tetragona and Nymphaea leibergii (Nymphaceae): two species of diminuitive water-lilies in North America. Brittonia 48(4):520-531.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Pygmy Water-lily"
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Citation for data on this website:
Pygmy Water-lily — Nymphaea leibergii.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from