European cow lily

European cow lily

European cow lily

Specification & Spread

European cow lily rhizomes — rhizomata nupharis lutei concisa
European cow lily — nuphar luteum (l.) Smith
Water-lily family — nymphaeaceae.

It is a perennial herbaceous aquatic plant. The rhizomes are horizontal, cylindrical, slightly branched, up to 3-4 m long and 3-13 cm thick, with numerous white cordlike roots 40-50 cm long and 3-5 mm thick.

The leaves are collected in bunches on the top of the rhizome and its branches of two types: floating and underwater. The underwater leaves are on relatively short petioles, thin, translucent, with wavy edges. The floating leaves are with long (up to 3-4 m and more), triangular petioles at the top. Their plates are dense, leathery, ovate-elliptic, with a heart-shaped base and entire. In the bottom it is green, dark green above and shiny.
The flowers are solitary on tops of flexible cord-like peduncles, reaching 3-5 m in length, slightly protruding above the water surface and large (up to 4-5 cm in diameter). The calyx is corolliform and contains 5 yellow sepals. The petals are numerous, 3 times shorter than sepals, orange-yellow in colour and converted into narrow nectaries. There are many stamens. The ovary is ovary-conical with sedentary stigma.
The fruit is a multi-seeded green capsule and sliming when it ripens.
The seeds are with an air bag, with the help of which it is spread over water on considerable distances.

It blooms in May – August, the fruits ripen in July – September.
It is propagated by seeds and vegetatively.

Spreading. European cow lily is a Eurasian species, widespread almost throughout the entire territory of the CIS, except for mountain areas and the Arctic. Industrial thickets are located mainly in the basins of the Danube, Southern Bug, Dnieper, Don, Volga, Kuban. The commercial harvesting is conducted in Ukraine, in the Voronezh region, the Krasnodar Territory, less often in other regions of the Russian Federation and in Belarus.
Habitat. It grows in rivers with slowly flowing water, often off the coast, in creeks, lakes, oxbows, ponds, at a depth of 0.5-1 m, but can also be found at a depth of 3-5 m or more. Mostly forms clean thickets of several tens of hectares.


The chemical composition of European cow lily

The rhizomes contain:

  • alkaloids of the quinolizidine group, which contain sulfur,
  • nufaridine derivatives (0.4%) – nuflein, tiobinofaridin, neotyobinufaridin, nufarin and others;
  • starch (up to 20%);
  • steroids – sitosterol, stigmasterol, sitosterol glycoside, sitosterol palmitic ester;
  • vitamins – ascorbic acid, carotenoids;
  • tannins (2.3%);
  • higher fatty acids – palmitic, arachnid, behenic.

Harvesting and storage of raw materials

Harvesting. The rhizomes can be harvested from May to October in the flowering and fruiting phases. The best time to harvest in the middle lane in the European part is July – August, when the water level in the reservoirs decreases. In shallow and dry water bodies, the harvesting of rhizomes is carried out by standing in the water and cutting the roots from the bottom with a sharp knife. In deep waters, the rhizomes are pulled out by hooks from boats.

Security measures. In order to ensure the renewal of thickets, at least 10% of the plants should be left intact in each of it.
Drying. The harvested rhizomes are carefully washed, remove the roots, leafstalks and dead parts, cut into pieces 1-1.5 cm thick and spread out a thin layer (1-2 cm) for drying. It is dried in dryers or ovens at 50-60 °C, in attics with good ventilation. Before drying, the rhizomes are dried for 2-3 days in the air, covering the raw material with a tarpaulin at night.

The plant is poisonous, so care must be taken when harvesting, drying and packaging it.(!).

The raw materials are presented by pieces of rhizomes, cut longitudinally into thin ribbon-shaped pieces or cut across into disk-shaped pieces.
On the surface of the rhizome triangle-rounded dark scars are visible – traces of dead leaf petioles and smaller rounded scars arranged in groups – traces of dead or cut off roots. The thickness of the disc-shaped pieces is up to 1-1,5 cm.

The colour of the rhizomes from the surface is brownish-gray with dark, almost black scars from the petioles and roots. A grayish-cream or slightly yellowish colour is on a fracture. There are numerous conductive beams protruding above the surface.

The smell is weak. The taste is not determined(!).

Properties and application

The pharmacological properties of European cow lily

European cow lily alkaloids have:

  • antimicrobial,
  • antifungal,
  • antitrichomonas,
  • spermicidal,
  • local contraceptive action.

Application of European cow lily

It is used while trichomonas colpitis.

  • Individual intolerance,
  • pregnancy,
  • lactation,
  • children under 14 years.

The plant is poisonous, do not allow overdose!