Pickerelweed (Cordata)

The Pickerelweed (Cordata) is generally described as a perennial forb/herb. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring . The Pickerelweed (Cordata) has green foliage and inconspicuous blue flowers, with a moderate amount of conspicuous fruits or seeds. The greatest bloom is usually observed in the late spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Pickerelweed (Cordata) has a moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Pickerelweed (Cordata) will reach up to 3.2 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The Pickerelweed (Cordata) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by seed, sprigs. It has a rapid ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have medium vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -23°F. has none tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Pickerelweed forms large colonies along shallow shorelines. The emergent mass of stems and leaves provide wave-buffering protection. Although slow to spread, the root base of this plant thoroughly covers the sediments with a tough vegetative mat. The seed of pickerelweed is eaten by waterfowl. Geese and muskrats will consume the vegetation, while only fish, and to a lesser extent birds and small mammals, utilize flooded foliage for cover. This species is also used extensively in water gardening, due to its showy violet to blue flowers.

General Characteristics

Pontederia cordata is a stout perennial herbaceous emergent that can reach four feet tall. The light green stems and leaves emerge annually from a thick pad of fibrous roots. These roots give rise to short creeping rhizomes, allowing the plant to spread. The waxy leaves develop at the ends of stems, and are highly variable in shape and size. Their shape will range from oval to lance-like, with size varying 2 to 10 inches long and 1/2 to 6 inches wide. Leaf veins are orientated in a parallel arrangement starting at the base.

The compound, violet to blue flowers emerge from an erect spike. The spike will grow to 6 inches in length. The showy flowers appear anywhere from May to October over much of its range. The corky fruit produced by these flowers is oblong and one seeded.

Required Growing Conditions

The natural distribution of pickerelweed is from Nova Scotia to Minnesota, south to Florida and Texas. This plant is typically found growing in the unconsolidated sediments of marshes, streams, shallow lakes, and ponds. It tolerates low fertility and partial sunlight and temporary inundation to 20 inches, but flourishes in fully exposed fertile soils (pH: 6.0 to 8.0), and permanently inundated up to 12 inches deep in freshwater (<3 parts per thousand salinity .).

Cultivation and Care

In the wild, pickerelweed is predominantly established from seed; there are approximately 5,000 cleaned seeds per pound. The seeds are dispersed by wind, water, and animals to favorable moist unconsolidated sites, where they establish. Similar processes can be mimicked by humans on-site, in nursery beds or greenhouses. Cool moist stratification of the seed is necessary to trigger adequate germination of spring seedings. Utilizing a seeding rate of 20-30 live seeds per square foot will result in the best establishment and development of a stand.Although vegetative dispersal is less frequent in nature, scale-like root corms are located near the soil surface or sometimes exposed and easily separate from the parent plant. When harvested these corms can be planted as bare-foot stock or containerized transplants. Bare-rooted material is typically small and manageable enough to plant using standard hand tools (spade, dibble, planting bar, etc.)

General Upkeep and Control

Once established, it is very important to maintain water depths greater then saturation, but shallower than the leaves year round. Maintaining site hydrology within this range will improve survival over winter. Pickerelweed responds well to the addition of commercial or organic fertilizers. The vegetative portions of this species are seldom damaged by insects, diseases, birds, or mammals. The seeds are often preyed upon by waterfowl.

Tightly spaced clonal populations of this species often co-exist with other shoreline inhabitors. Once pickerelweed has become established, seldom will these other species of emergent vegetation grown within the perimeter of the pickerelweed clones.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) No known varieties are available, but wetland nurseries carry local and regional ecotypes.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Forb/herb
Growth Period Spring
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Moderate
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Late Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Bunch
Drought Tolerance None
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 3.2
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Blue
Flower Conspicuousness Yes
Fruit/Seed Abundance Medium
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Rapid
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Seed, Sprigs
Moisture Requirements High
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature -23
Soil Depth for Roots 10
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate Slow
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 6–8 pH
Precipitation Range 40–40 inches/yr
Planting Density 2728–3700 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 10
Minimum Frost-Free Days 110 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance Low
CaCO3 Tolerance Medium
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database, plants.usda.gov.
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA