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Pontederia cordata (Pickerelweed)
Cliffe, Harry

Pontederia cordata

Pontederia cordata L.

Pickerelweed, Pickerel Rush

Pontederiaceae (Water-Hyacinth Family)

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 to mauve 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. Deer feed on these plants. The common name suggests that this plant, as well as the fish known as pickerel, occupy the same habitat.


From the Image Gallery

85 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Size Notes: Up to about 4 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Utricles.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov
Bloom Notes: Deep blue to mauve.


USA: 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 , OR , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NS , ON , PE , 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 Conditions

Water 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.


Use Ornamental: 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: yes
Attracts: Birds
Deer Resistant: Minimal


Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

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.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 765 - McMillen's Texas Gardening: Wildflowers (1998) Howard, D.
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Research Literature

Reslit 254 - Nitrogen and Phosphorous Removal by Ornamental and Wetland Plants in a Greenhouse Recirculation Research System (2009) Y. Chen, R. P. Bracy, A. D. Owings and D. J. Merha...
Reslit 501 - Comparison of torpedograss and pickerelweed susceptibility to glyphosate (2004) L. A. Gettys and D. L. Sutton
Reslit 324 - Response of exotics to restored hydroperiod at Dupuis Reserve, Florida (1999) P. G. David
Reslit 564 - Comparison of experimental strategies to control torpedograss (2000) C. G. Hanlon and K. Langeland
Reslit 566 - The Energy Cost of Bee Pollination for Pontederia cordata (Pontederiaceae) (1992) L. D. Harder and S. C. H. Barrett
Reslit 771 - Effects of three ALS-inhibitors on five emergent native plant species in Florida (2007) T. J. Koschnick, M. D. Netherland and W. T. Haller
Reslit 1097 - Nutrient recovery by seven aquatic garden plants in a laboratory-scale subsurface-constructed wetland (2007) R. F. Polomski, D. G. Bielenberg, T. Whitwell, M. ...
Reslit 1401 - Restoration Response of Relict Broadleaf Marshes to Increased Water Depths (2010) L. A. Toth
Reslit 1631 - Comparative floral anatomy of Pontederiaceae (2004) A. Strange, P. J. Rudall and C. J. Prychid
Reslit 1685 - The function and adaptive significance of tristyly in Pontederia cordata L. (Pontederiaceae) (1984) S. D. Price and S. C. H. Barrett

This information was provided by the Florida WIldflower Foundation.
Search More Titles in Research Literature

Additional resources

USDA: Find Pontederia cordata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Pontederia cordata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Pontederia cordata


Record Modified: 2023-02-23
Research By: TWC Staff

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