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Pickerelweed

 

Pickerelweed, Pontederia cordata, is a native aquatic plant found in shallow ponds, streams, marshes, and wet ditches.

It has a clump forming habit with short rhizomes. The clumps grow larger each year and colonize, but it is not considered to grow aggressively.

It attains a height of approximately three feet above the water, or mud. Its leaves grow on long, fleshy stalks, are arrowhead shaped, and are three to seven inches in length. They become dormant in the winter. The young leaves are edible. Young, unfurled, leaves can be added to salads or boiled for ten minutes and served with butter.

Its blooms, which grow on conspicuous spikes, appear in late spring and continue blooming until early fall. The flower spikes grow on fleshy stems, and are six inches in length, purple-blue, and rarely white.

The fruit, which is red and sticky, is eaten by ducks, and a number of aquatic animals. Each fruit contains a single, starchy seed, which in addition to the leaves, is edible. The seeds are very nutritious and can be eaten out of hand, dried, or added to cereals. They can also be roasted and ground into flour.

It is easy to propagate through root division, and may be divided during the blooming season. Many native plant nurseries in our area carry pickerelweed.

by Sharon LaPlante

 

Taylor, Walter Kingsley. The Guide to Florida Wildflowers. Taylor Publishing: Dallas, TX 1992

Wasowski, Sally. Gardening with Native Plants of the South. Taylor Publishing: Dallas, TX 1994

Peterson, Lee A. Peterson Field Guides: Edible Plants. Houghton Mifflin: Boston 1977

 

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