Pickerelweed – Floridas’ Wildflowers

Pickerelweed

Pickerelweed

Pickerelweed – (Pontederia cordata)

The Pickerelweed plant is native to Florida and is a freshwater plant that grows on the edges of lakes, ponds, marshes and other freshwater habitats. It has tall violet-blue and sometimes white flowers that grow from its stem. It can grow in heights from 2-4 feet but part of this is underwater. It spreads by its root structure or rhizomes which grow and extend underground and sends up other stems nearby. I saw this clump of Pickerelweeds on the edge of a small lake in my neighborhood and was impressed by its pretty violet-blue flowers. The plant is perennial which means its flowers and stems die after they are eaten but the rhizomes stay alive and spout new leaves and flowers the following year. The University of Florida Dept. of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) has some good information about plants and ecosystems.  The nectar of the flower on the Pickerelweed is eaten by insects, bees and butterflies. It produces a fruit or a seed after it is pollinated which is eaten by muskrats, white tailed deer and other animals. I have read that the Pickerelweed is helpful to our wetlands by filtering out excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous which helps to prevent algae blooms and excess plant growth in freshwater systems which can block out sunlight and kill off organisms on the lake or stream bottoms which are necessary for its health and diversity. Another website to visit is Island Creek Elementary School in Fairfax County Virginia which shows the Pickerelweed Plant in large and colorful displays

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