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Pickerelweed, Lanceleaf Pickerelweed, Heartleaf Pickerelweed, Pickerel Rush - Pontederia cordata


Family: Pontederiaceae - Pickerelweed Family Genus Common Name: Pickerelweed Native Status: NativeMonocot Perennial Herb
Pontederia cordata - Pickerelweed, Lanceleaf Pickerelweed, Heartleaf Pickerelweed, Pickerel Rush. Pontederia is a small genus with only 6 species worldwide (there are only around 30 species in the Pontederiaceae family.) The species presented here, Pontederia cordata is the only one found in North America; all the other species in the genus are native to South America.

Pontederia cordata is a native aquatic plant of the eastern half of the United States and Canada. It is also found naturalized in Oregon, where it is considered invasive, and natively in South America. It is rooted in muddy flats of ponds, lakes and marshes. It spreads vegetatively via submerged rhizomes. While it is generally considered to be a late summer flower, it can bloom as early as March in the southern parts of its range. According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center "the seeds can be eaten like nuts and the young leaf-stalks cooked as greens. Deer also feed on these plants."

Found in:
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

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Pontederia cordata

Distribution of Pontederia cordata in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 18 Oct 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Baie Fine of Lake Huron, Ontario, Canada Date: 2015-August-13Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The flowering stem of Pickerelweed has a single leaf, a spathe from which the inflorescence emerges, and that terminal spike of pale purple flowers. The inflorescence normally has more than 50 flowers, perhaps as many as several hundred.
Pontederia cordata

Site: Baie Fine of Lake Huron, Ontario, Canada Date: 2015-August-13Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The flower of Pontederia cordata is a pale purple - described in Flora of North America as "mauve." It is 3-merous. There are 6 corolla lobes. The top lobe has a two-lobed mark of yellow lined with white. There are 6 stamens, with 3 being shorter than the other 3. The individual flowers last only a single day, but the inflorescence blooms from top to bottom over a period of several days.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Pontederia cordata

Site: Baie Fine of Lake Huron, Ontario, Canada Date: 2015-August-13Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Some authorities consider there to be a number of varieties of Pontederia cordata, with the shape of the leaf being the most obvious morphological difference between the varieties. However, since there can be significant variation of leaf shape even within a single population of Pickerelweed, the classification to varietal level based on leaf shape is disputed. The base of the leaf can be cuneate to cordate, and the leaf blade can be lanceolate to ovate. There is a variety in South America - var. ovalis which is generally recognized due to the silky-hairy (velutinous) peduncle. That South American variety has an ovate leaf blade with a cuneate base.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Pontederia cordata

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer