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  • Writer's pictureRyan O'Hanlon

Species Profile: Pickerelweed

Updated: Mar 11, 2022

Pontederia cordata


Species Profile


Pickerelweed is often utilized in habitat and shoreline restoration projects, it also boasts a large purple flower spike. The leaves are large and heart shaped, with the plant reaching heights of 3+ feet.

Where does it grow?

Although typically found in pond margins and shallow water (2-4 in.), it can grow in up to about eight inches of water. It’s native to North America and found in the mid to eastern portion of the US and Canada.

How tough is it?

It’s a very hardy plant but is susceptible to herbivory. As long as the root structure is moist, pickerel weed will continue to grow and put out it’s large purple flowers.

How is it beneficial?

One of its greatest benefits is shoreline stabilization. That being said, it’s often utilized for beautification along pond and lake shorelines because of its showy flowers. The large flowers attract pollinators and the seeds, produced in the summer and fall, feed wildlife including waterfowl.

How does it spread/grow?

Local spread is typically via the spread of the rhizome, a root structure. This can be compared to how iris beds develop and spread. Seeds are also produced and are able to float away from its original site location to germinate.

How to tell it from other plants?

Pickerelweed is almost one of a kind. The invasive water hyacinth (Pontederia crassipes) is the most similar looking plant we see locally. One of the easiest ways to differentiate between them is; pickerelweed roots in the ground and water hyacinth floats. Both have similar purple flowers; however the pickerelweed flower is a cone or spike shape, with multiple small flowers. Water hyacinth flowers are much larger with only a few flowers.

What else should you know about this plant?

Pickerel weed does very well in many different pond, lake and wetland scenarios with beautiful flowers showing in spring

through to early fall.

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