Pickerelweed

Common Name: Pickerelweed.

Scientific Name: Pontederia Cordata.

What to look for?  A green oval-shaped leaf on top of a green stem emerging from the shallow waters of Carillon Stonegate Pond’s shore. Look for colonies of these plants. The Pickerelweed is a vigorous, aquatic perennial. It has oval-shaped basal leaves and spikes of blue-violet flower clusters. It commonly grows submerged in shallow water or out of water on wet muddy banks. Each floral spike has upwards of one hundred tiny blue-violet flowers. While the blooming period for the plant is long, individual flowers last only a day or two. The mature fruit of each flower contains a single, large seed. The root system consists of long-running rhizomes and coarse fibrous roots. Colonies of Pickerelweed are formed as seen on Carillon Stonegate Ponds, can become quite large.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? In spring, you can find the Pickerelweed’s green stems emerging from Carillon Stonegate Ponds. The favorable conditions of our two ponds (many thanks Carillon at Stonegate community and Kane County Forest Preserve!) result in the development of colonies of Pickerelweed scattered around the ponds. In summer, you can find the Pickerelweed’s purple flowers in full bloom!

How big are they? The Pickerelweed is typically one (1) to three (3) feet tall. The oval leaves are approximately seven (7) inches long and five (5) inches across.

Where do they grow and thrive? The Pickerelweed is native to the eastern U.S, including most of Illinois. Habitats include the shallow water of ponds, marshes, swamps, bogs, and protected areas of rivers where the water is slow-moving.

When do they bloom? The blooming period of the Pickerelweed usually occurs during the summer and early fall and can last several months for a colony of plants.

Do birds, insects or other wildlife associate with this plant? The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract Bumblebees and other bees. Pickerelweed seeds are eaten by a variety of ducks, including the Mallard, Black Duck, Green-Winged Teal, and Wood Duck. Muskrats and White-Tailed Deer occasionally browse on the foliage. When this plant forms dense colonies, it provides cover for fish and other aquatic wildlife.

Interesting Facts About the Pickerelweed:

  • Pickerelweed produces attractive spikes of blue-violet flowers, which is an unusual color for the flowers of an emergent aquatic plant; this species is related to the infamous Water Hyacinth.

  • Genus name ‘Pontederia’ honors Guilio Pontedera (1688-1757), professor of botany at Padua.

  • Specific epithet ‘Cordata’ refers to the rounded cordate bases of the leaves.

For more information on the Pickerelweed and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois Wildflowers, Minnesota Wildflowers, and Missouri Botanical Gardens.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.

 

Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!