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Pontederia cordata

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Plant types and subtypes: Perennials

Light Requirements: sun, part-sun

Water Use: high

Soil Moisture: wet

Soil Description: acid, rich, average, loam, clay, sand

Height: 1'-3'

Bloom Time: May, June, July, August, September, October

Bloom Color: violet, purple, blue

Leaf Color: green

Hardiness Zone: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Additional Tags: attracts birds, attracts butterflies, bog plant, colonizing, emergent, naturalizing, ornamental foliage, pond margin plant, stream margin plant, swamp plant, water garden plant, wetland plant

Flowers of Pontederia cordata (pickerelweed)
  • Flowers of Pontederia cordata (pickerelweed)
  • Pontederia cordata (pickerelweed)

Pricing & Availability

Description

Pontederia cordata

Also known as:

pickerelweed

,

Scientific Synonyms:

Pontederia lanceolata

Description

Pontederia cordata is an emergent plant (part of the plant remains under water), that typically forms large colonies. It produces attractive, waxy, green, arrow-shaped leaves that can vary in form from short and squat, to elongated (2" to 10"). These leaves emerge from the water on singular stems and form dense masses that can grow up to 3' tall. Extending another 10" above the foliage will be the flower spike, consisting of a 6", dense cluster of blue-violet tubular flowers. These flower spikes appear on singular stems and will bear one leaf near the flower.

Cultivation

The root mass of pickerel weed must remain submerged under water year round. The ideal depth is anywhere between 3' to 12". It can withstand periodic flooding up to 20". Typically found on calm water shorelines, Pontederia cordata readily forms colonies and produces thick mats of rhizomatous roots that are very effective at preventing soil erosion. When growing this plant in a small water garden, this tendency can easily lead to overpopulation by the species. However, if this is cause for concern, pickerel weed does very well in containers. Best in rich, loamy soil and full sun, it will tolerate part-sun conditions. Plants bloom abundantly, beginning as early as May, and consistently until October or first frost. A very hardy plant with an extensive native range. Zones 3-10.

Propagation

Pontederia cordata is easy to propagate from seed in submerged containers. Stored seeds should be exposed to cool, moist stratification to increase germination rates. May be propagated by root or clump division, but these can become quite dense and difficult to divide. An easier method is to transplant the scale-like corms that grow from the roots. These are usually near the surface of the soil, sometimes even exposed.

Additional Notes

Pickerelweed is a very showy plant that is sure to grab the attention of visitors, butterflies, and the occasional deer! This is indeed an edible plant. Young leaves can be added to salads, young flower shoots can be cooked as greens, and the seeds can be eaten fresh, or dried and added to baked goods, cereal and granola. The seeds are also attractive to a variety of birds and waterfowl, as well as small mammals. As the common name would indicate, pickerel (and other fish) use the plant as shelter.

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:
AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV

USDA Endangered Status:

  • Threatened: KY

Classification

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Liliopsida Monocotyledons
Subclass Liliidae
Order Liliales
Family Pontederiaceae Water-Hyacinth family
Genus Pontederia pickerelweed
Species Pontederia cordata pickerelweed