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Botanical Name ; Pontederia cordata
Species: P. cordata
Common Name ;Pickerelweed (USA) or Pickerel weed (UK)
Habitat ;Pontederia cordata is native to Eastern N. America – Nova Scotia to Florida andTexas. A garden escape occ naturalized in Britain.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires wet soil and can grow in water.
Pontederia cordata is a perennial herb growing to 0.75m by 0.45m.
It is hardy to zone 3. It is in flower from July to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.
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The species grows as an emergent plant, that is, in flooded conditions, so the plant is generally dependent upon aerenchyma in the stem to carry oxygen into the roots. Its metabolism, is, however, also tolerant of low soil oxygen. It is often found in areas where water levels fluctuate naturally, with spring flooding and later summer emergence. Apart from flooding, the species is also influenced by soil fertility, tending to grow in the more fertile bays of large lakes, for example. Like many aquatic plants, it is negatively affected by salinity and grazing. It is also negatively affected by competition from other wetland plants. Like many wetland plants, it can survive infavorable conditions as buried seeds in the soil.
The plant flowers in late summer. The purple flowers have yellow markings which may assist in attracting bees for pollination.One bee species known to pollinate the flowers is Dufourea (Halictoides) novaeangliae. Once the plant begins to produce seeds, the stem supporting the infloresence bends to submerse the fruits and seeds. Seeds are dormant at the time of dispersal and will not germinate without stratification for 6-8 weeks.
The flowers of the species are tristylous, meaning the styles of individual plants occur in three different morphs, with most populations containing all three. Leaf shape, which varies considerably across populations, within populations, and even within individuals, has been the source for many taxonomic synonyms. Like many wetland and aquatic plants, the species can reproduce asexually by means of branching rhizomes, and hence can form large clonal stands.
A water or bog garden plant, it requires a rich soil and prefers growing in water 15 – 30 cm deep. Plants are hardy to about -25°c. A very ornamental plant, it forms spreading patches by means of a thick creeping rhizome. There is a species of bee (Dufourea novae-angliae) which visits this plant for nectar and pollen and does not visit any other species of plant. The reproductive biology of Pontederia cordata has been well studied. It is a tristylous species, and most populations contain all three forms. At least some degree of self-incompatibility exists, being strongest with the short-style forms and weakest with the midstyle forms.
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in pots standing in 2cm of water in a cold frame. Cover the seed lightly with silver sand. Submerse in 3cm depth of water after the seedlings emerge. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in water in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division is best in April but it can be done at almost any time of the year. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer. Lateral shoots.
Edible Uses :
Edible Parts: Leaves; Seed.
Seed – raw, cooked like rice or dried and ground into a powder. A very acceptable nutty flavour and texture when raw, they are said to be excellent if the seed is lightly roasted in an oven. Young leafstalks – raw or cooked. The whole plant is edible cooked or raw. It can be added to salads, cooked like spinach or added to soups.
An infusion of the plant has been used as a contraceptive.
Pickerelweed near Ottawa, OntarioThis plant is cultivated as an ornamental garden plant, and has gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit
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