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Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia
Pontederia cordata L.
Pickerelweed, Pickerel rush
Synonym(s): Pontederia cordata var. angustifolia, Pontederia cordata var. lanceolata, Pontederia cordata var. lancifolia, Pontederia lanceolata
USDA Symbol: POCO14
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
The large pickerelweed plant produces 1 spike of small flowers. The plant is often 3 feet tall, with long, heart-shaped leaves. The flower stem rises above the leaves except 1 leaf that grows behind the flowers. The deep blue flowers are on a spike about 6 inches long and bloom in succession from the bottom up, prolonging the flowering period for several days.
This emergent aquatic, with its leaves and flowers above water and portions of the stem under water, is found typically in shallow, quiet water. The seeds can be eaten like nuts and the young leaf-stalks cooked as greens. Deer also feed on these plants. The common name suggests that this plant, as well as the fish known as pickerel, occupy the same habitat.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Size Notes:
Green Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
, WV Canada: NB
, QC Native Distribution:
Ontario to Nova Scotia and New England; south to northern Florida; west to Missouri and Oklahoma; north to Minnesota. Native Habitat: In
marshes and ditches in shallow water of east Texas. Grows in mud, up to a foot under water.
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
High Light Requirement:
Sun , Part Shade Soil Moisture:
Moist , Wet CaCO3 Tolerance:
Medium Soil Description:
Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay, Clay Loam, Mud Conditions Comments:
A true pond plant, pickerelweed is easy to grow so long as it does not dry out. The hyacinth-like flowers continue to bloom through the summer. Regularly divide the plant to keep it from growing too large. Pickerelweed provides nectar
for bees and butterflies. Good for wetland gardens and habitat.
Water garden, Bog or pond area Use Wildlife:
Seeds eaten by waterfowl. Attracts dragonflies. Use Food:
Pickerelweed has often been used for food. Each fruit
contains a nutritious, starchy seed that can be eaten straight from the plant or dried and added to granola and other cereals. The dried seeds can also be boiled, roasted to improve flavour or ground into flour. The young leaves have sometimes been eaten raw in salads or boiled and served with butter. (Kershaw) Conspicuous Flowers:
Birds Deer Resistant:
PropagationCommercially Avail: yes
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
Record Last Modified: 2013-09-12
Research By: TWC Staff