Little attention has been paid to how aquatic habitat characteristics affect the traits of plant species. Nuphar lutea (L.) Sm. is a keystone species distributed across temperate regions of Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia. Its apparently low phenotypic variability compared to other aquatic plants led us to test whether the species exhibited significant phenotypic variability and whether trait values correlated to environmental parameters. The hypotheses were that (1) the environmental variation within our set of wetlands (both water and sediment characteristics) led to significant variation among four sets of traits related respectively to growth, reproduction, defence and storage and (2) that nutrient limitation (nitrogen and especially phosphorus) should affect plant traits towards a higher investment in storage and defence and a lower investment in growth and reproduction, thereby negatively affecting the success of N. lutea. To test these hypotheses, 11 populations of N. lutea were sampled in wetlands differing in physicochemical characteristics and spread along three rivers. A total of 15 traits, grouped into four sets (growth, reproduction, storage and defence), were measured during the growing season. Most N. lutea traits were related to the environmental characteristics of wetlands. The growth and reproduction traits were mostly positively related to habitat resource conditions, whereas the defence traits were positively correlated with both ammonium concentration and temperature, outlining possible anoxic stress (habitat adversity). Nitrogen or phosphorus limitation led to the variation of only a few traits: the rhizome starch content was higher in phosphorus-limited wetlands, while the rhizome length and volume, and the number of flowers were higher in nitrogen-limited wetlands.