Pontederia cordata L.

Pickerel Weed


CC = 7
CW = -5
MOC = 22

© DETenaglia

Family - Pontederiaceae

Habit - Perennial emergent aquatic forb.

Stems - To 1 m tall, glabrous.

Leaves - Basal and alternate. Petioles much longer than blades, with sheathing bases. Blades to 20 cm long, ovate to triangular, cordate, glabrous.

Pontederia_cordata_sheath.jpg Sheathing petiole.

© SRTurner

Pontederia_cordata_leaf1.jpg Leaf adaxial.

© SRTurner

Pontederia_cordata_leaf2.jpg Leaf abaxial.

© SRTurner

Inflorescence - Dense spike with numerous flowers.

Pontederia_cordata_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Perianth fused below the middle, 2-lipped, the lobes 6-10 mm long, lilac to purplish blue, the upper middle lobe with 2 yellow or white spots. Stamens 6, 3 longer and 3 shorter, the filaments attached near the middle of the anthers.

Pontederia_cordata_flowers2.jpg Flowers.

© SRTurner

Pontederia_cordata_flowers3.jpg Flowers.

© SRTurner

Fruits - Fruits utricles, 5-10 mm, long, ovoid, tapering to the persistent, coiled style base and enclosed by the persistent perianth tube, which is hard and roughened and develops 4-7 ridges with blunt teeth. Seeds 1 per fruit, 2-4 mm long.

Pontederia_cordata_infructescence.jpg Infructescence.

© SRTurner

Flowering - June - October.

Habitat - Swamps, lakes, ponds, river bottoms.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - None when flowering.

Other info. - This striking species can be found in scattered locations throughout most of the state. It also occurs across most of the eastern half of the continental U.S., by far most commonly in coastal and Great Lakes regions. The plant is easy to ID in the field because of its growth habit, shiny green leaves, and showy inflorescences with yellow-spotted purple flowers. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental in garden ponds.

The young leaves of this species can be eaten as well as the nutritious, grain-like fruits. The seeds and rootstocks are an important food source for waterfowl, muskrats, and beavers.

Photographs taken in Brown Summit, NC., 6-10-02 (DETenaglia); also at Shaw Nature Reserve, Franklin County, MO, 6-26-2013 and 7-22-2020, and at Busch Wildlife Area, St. Charles County, MO, 7-29-2015 (SRTurner).