Friday, July 31, 2015

Flower Friday: Pollinators are passionate for purple pickerelweed

Photo by R. W. Smith,
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata)

Pickerelweed is a long-lived, perennial wetland wildflower. Its conspicuous blooms are born in erect, showy spikes. Flowers are tubular with deep purplish-blue petals that often bear yellow and white markings. Leaves are dark green and alternately arranged. Their shape is sagittate (arrow-shaped), with a long, tapering blade and a cordate (heart-shaped) base, hence the species name, cordata. Flower spikes extend above all but one leaf, which grows just below and behind the spike. Seeds are inconspicuous, and are edible to humans and wildlife. Ducks are known to eat the entire plant.

Pickerelweed typically blooms in spring through summer and occurs naturally in open, aquatic habitats such as pond, lake or river edges, marshes and swamps. It is pollinated primarily by bees, but is visited by many butterflies and other insects. 

Photo by Alan Cressler, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
: Pontederiaceae
Native range: Nearly throughout Florida
Hardiness: Zones 7–10
Soil: Inundated to saturated soils
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: 2–4 feet
Propagation: seed, division
Garden tips: Pickerelweed is great for water gardens as well as pond edges and drainage swales, where it can also help with soil stabilization. It flowers best if grown in full sun. It is fast-growing and spreads easily on its own by underground rhizomes, forming large colonies if not maintained.

Pickerelweed is often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit plantrealflorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.

To see where pickerelweed occurs naturally, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3688.

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