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Wisconsin Plant of the Week

Pontederia cordata L.

Pontederiaceae (Water Hyacinth Family)

Common Name:



Pickerel-weed is a native herb found in shallow water (up to 1 m) and marshy borders of lakes, ponds and slow rivers, often in large colonies.  Emergent parts are up to 1 m tall.

It requires clear water. Prior to emergence a rosette of leaves grows on the bottom and dies if the water is very murky.

Leaves have a long petiole, and usually a firm broadly heart-shaped blade to 18 cm. A narrow leaved form is rare.  Most leaves arise from the base of the plant.

Inflorescence is a crowded spike, to 10 cm long, on a long stalk arising from the rhizome. Flowers are violet to white, 2-lipped, with each of the lips 3-lobed. Blooms from late June to September.

(The dragonfly is the male Pied or Widow Skimmer, Libellula luctuosa.)

  • Origin of the Name: Pontederia, for Guillo Pontedera, former Professor of Botany at Padua 1688-1757; cordata: L. cordis, heart, refers to the heart-shaped  leaves
  • Range: a New World plant, N.S. to Ont and MN, s. to S. Amer.
  • WI Range:  Statewide, less common northward
  • Common associates: Yellow and white water lilies, bulrushes
  • Wetland Indicator Status: OBL
  • Coefficient of Conservatism: C = 10 (S&W), C = 8 (MI)

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