Floridata Plant Encyclopedia

A Floridata Plant Profile 285 Pontederia cordata

Common Names: pickerelweed Family: Pontederiaceae (pickerel weed Family)
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pickerelweed flowerspike
The pickerelweed produces spectacular spikes of electric violet-blue flowers.


Pickerelweed is an aquatic or marsh perennial with a cluster of erect arrowhead-shaped leaves arising from a single basal clump. The leaves are 4-8 in (10.2-20.3 cm) across, shiny green and thick-spongy, standing up to 3 ft (0.9 m) tall on fleshy petioles (leaf stems). Throughout late spring and summer, pickerelweed produces showy 6-8 in (15.2-20.3 cm) spires of violet-blue flowers standing on stalks 2-3 ft (0.6-0.9 m) high. The individual flowers are about 1 in (2.5 cm) across and elaborately-beautiful, reminiscent of an orchid. Pickerelweed spreads by creeping rhizomes (underground stems) just beneath the surface. Pickerelweed often forms dense stands that paint a summertime marsh purplish-blue.


Pickerelweed, Pontederia cordata, in common in wetlands (the transition zone between aquatic habitats and terrestrial habitats) from Minnesota and Nova Scotia, southward to Texas and Florida, the West Indies and all the way to Argentina.


Light: Full sun to filtered sun. Moisture: Once established, pickerelweed can stand permanent flooding, but not deeper than 6 in (15.2 cm). If planted in soil, pickerelweed must be watered frequently, and not allowed to dry out. It does best at the very edge of the water where it will be flooded periodically. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 11. Propagation: The rootstock of large plants is easily divided
The pickerelweed makes a showy addition to water gardens and provides wildlife cover and erosion protection in nature.


Plant pickerelweed in the margins of a garden pond or water garden. You can plant it in a pot, then set the pot in the water. That way you can change the depth and position of the plant if necessary. Cut flowers are strikingly beautiful when viewed up close, and although each individual flower lasts only one day, more will open each day and the entire inflorescence will last for several days in a vase of water.


Pickerelweed is very easy to cultivate and should be a part of any water garden. Young leaves can be eaten as a salad green or potherb, and the nutritious, starchy seeds can be eaten fresh, dried or roasted. In nature, pickerelweed provides important cover for wildlife, and helps wetlands filter polluted water.

Note: this plant has several synonyms including: P. sagittata, P. lanceolata, P. lancifolia.

Steve Christman 7/29/99; updated 5/12/04

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Pontederia species profiled on Floridata:

Pontederia cordata

( pickerelweed )

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