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Overview

Comprehensive Description

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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 (Eichhornia crassipes), which clogs waterways in many areas of southeastern United States. The introduced Water Hyacinth has similar blue-violet flowers (although larger in size), but it has stubby leaves that float on water. The smaller Heteranthera spp. (Mud Plantains) are also related to Pickerelweed, but their flowers occur individually or in small clusters. Both Water Hyacinth and Mud Plantains have been found in wetlands of southern Illinois.
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Description

This native perennial plant is about 1-3' tall, consisting of a loose clump of basal leaves and occasional flowering stalks. The basal leaves develop directly from the rootstock. The blades of these leaves are up to 7" long and 5" across across; the width of the blades can be highly variable. They are lanceolate-sagittate to oval-cordate in shape, medium green, smooth along the margins, and hairless. Along the upper surface, there are many fine parallel veins. The petioles of the basal leaves are as long as the blades or even longer; they are light to medium green, terete (round in cross-section), hairless, hollow, and rather stout. The unbranched flowering stalks are 1-3' long and ascending to erect; similar to the petioles, they are light green, terete, hairless, hollow, and stout. Each flowering stalk bears a single leaf that is similar to the basal leaves, except the base of its petiole is wrapped in a light green sheath. The stalk terminates in a single floral spike up to 5" long. Underneath this spike, there is a light green sheath that wraps around the stalk. Above this sheath, the central axis of the floral spike is glandular-pubescent. The blue-violet flowers and their buds are densely arranged all around the spike; a large spike can produce 100 or more flowers, although they don't bloom all at the same time.  Each flower spans up to ½" across when it is fully open; the short blue-violet corolla has 6 slender lobes (3 upper & 3 lower ones), which spread outward from the throat of the flower. The uppermost lobe has 1-2 small patches of yellow that probably function as nectar guides for visiting insects. The reproductive organs of the flower consist of a single style and 6 stamens of variable length (usually 3 long stamens & 3 short stamens). Because of this variation, there are three different morphological forms of the flower. The blooming period occurs during the summer and early fall and can last several months for a colony of plants. However, individual flowers last only a day or two. The mature fruit of each flower has 3 cells, but only one of them develops a seed. This seed is large in size. The root system consists of long-running rhizomes and coarse fibrous roots. Vegetative colonies are often produced; sometimes, they can become quite large.
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Derivation of specific name

cordata: heart-shaped
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© Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten and Petra Ballings

Source: Flora of Zimbabwe

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Description

Pontederia cordata is a stout perennial herbaceous emergent that can reach four feet tall. The light green stems and leaves emerge annually from a thick pad of fibrous roots. These roots give rise to short creeping rhizomes, allowing the plant to spread. The waxy leaves develop at the ends of stems, and are highly variable in shape and size. Their shape will range from oval to lance-like, with size varying 2 to 10 inches long and 1/2 to 6 inches wide. Leaf veins are orientated in a parallel arrangement starting at the base.

The compound, violet to blue flowers emerge from an erect spike. The spike will grow to 6 inches in length. The showy flowers appear anywhere from May to October over much of its range. The corky fruit produced by these flowers is oblong and one seeded.

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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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N.B., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que.; Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Nebr., N.H., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.; Mexico; Central America (Belize); South America.
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Distribution and adaptation

The natural distribution of pickerelweed is from Nova Scotia to Minnesota, south to Florida and Texas. This plant is typically found growing in the unconsolidated sediments of marshes, streams, shallow lakes, and ponds. It tolerates low fertility and partial sunlight and temporary inundation to 20 inches, but flourishes in fully exposed fertile soils (pH: 6.0 to 8.0), and permanently inundated up to 12 inches deep in freshwater (<3 parts per thousand salinity .).

For a current distribution map, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Website.

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Plants perennial, rooted in mud. Vegetative stems contracted, rhizomatous. Flowering stems erect, to 120 cm. Sessile leaves: blade linear. Petiolate leaves emersed; stipule 7–29 cm; petiole distinctly constricted just below blade, to 60 cm; blade lanceolate to cordate, 6–22 × 0.7–12 cm. Spikes with up to several hundred flowers, 2–15 cm; spathes 5–17 cm. Perianth mauve, tube 3–9 mm, limb lobes oblanceolate, 5–8 mm, distal central lobe with 2-lobed yellow spot; proximal stamens 7–13 mm, distal 1.5–6.3 mm; style 3-lobed. Utricles with dentate ridges, 4–6 × 2–3 mm.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Narukila cordata (Linnaeus) Nieuwland; Pontederia angustifolia Pursh; P. cordata var. lanceolata (Nuttall) Grisebach; P. cordata var. lancifolia (Muhlenberg) Torrey; P. lanceolata Nuttall; P. lancifolia Muhlenberg; Unisema cordata (Linnaeus) Farwell
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Type Information

Holotype for Pontederia lanceolata var. vichadensis F.J. Herm.
Catalog Number: US 2169640
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): F. J. Hermann
Year Collected: 1944
Locality: Ca. 18 km NESan Jose de Ocune, bordering Rio Vichada., Vichada, Colombia, South America
Elevation (m): 100 to 100
  • Holotype: Hermann, F. J. 1948. Caldasia. 5 (21): 39.
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Ecology

Habitat

Pond and lake margins; 0--500m.
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Depth range based on 6 specimens in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 1 - 1
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Dispersal

Establishment

In the wild, pickerelweed is predominantly established from seed; there are approximately 5,000 cleaned seeds per pound. The seeds are dispersed by wind, water, and animals to favorable moist unconsolidated sites, where they establish. Similar processes can be mimicked by humans on-site, in nursery beds or greenhouses. Cool moist stratification of the seed is necessary to trigger adequate germination of spring seedings. Utilizing a seeding rate of 20-30 live seeds per square foot will result in the best establishment and development of a stand.

Although vegetative dispersal is less frequent in nature, scale-like root corms are located near the soil surface or sometimes exposed and easily separate from the parent plant. When harvested these corms can be planted as bare-foot stock or containerized transplants. Bare-rooted material is typically small and manageable enough to plant using standard hand tools (spade, dibble, planting bar, etc.)

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Associations

Faunal Associations

The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract Bombus spp. (Bumblebees) and other bees, including Florilegus condigna, Melissodes apicata, and Doufourea novaeangliae. The latter two species are rare oligolectic visitors that collect the pollen of Pickerelweed in particular to feed their larvae. Occasionally, Sulfur Butterflies and other butterflies suck nectar from the flowers. The larvae of some Borer Moths feed within the stalks and leaf petioles of Pickerelweed, including Bellura densa (Pickerelweed Borer Moth), Bellura gortynoides (White-Tailed Diver), and Bellura obliqua (Cattail Borer Moth). The young larvae of the White-Tailed Diver also mine the leaf blades. Pickerelweed is the preferred host plant of the leaf beetle, Donacia rugosa. The large edible seeds are eaten occasionally by various 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. Photographic Location
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Flower-Visiting Insects of Pickerelweed in Illinois

Pontederia cordata (Pickerelweed)
(Bees suck nectar or collect pollen, while butterflies, skippers, & hummingbirds suck nectar; observations are from Hoffman & Molano-Flores, Robertson, Krombein et al., Hilton Pond Center, and Bouseman, Sternburg, & Wiker, as indicated below)

Birds
Trochilidae: Archilochus colubris sn (HPC)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Bombini): Bombus bimaculatus (HPC); Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Florilegus condigna sn (Rb), Melissodes apicata (HMF) cp olg

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Dufoureinae): Dufourea novaeangliae (HMF, Kr) cp olg; Halictidae (Nomiinae): Nomia nortoni nortoni (Kr); Andrenidae (Panurginae): Pseudopanurgus rugosus sn (Kr)

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Speyeria diana sn (HPC); Pieridae: Colias philodice sn (Rb)

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Amblyscirtes aesculapius sn (HPC), Anatrytone logan sn (BSW), Ancyloxypha numitor sn (BSW), Epargyreus clarus sn (HPC), Euphyes bimaculata sn (BSW), Euphyes dion sn (BSW), Euphyes dukesi sn (BSW), Panquina ocola sn (BSW), Poanes yehl sn (BSW), Poanes zabulon (HPC), Wallengrenia otho sn (BSW)

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering Mar--Nov in Florida; flowering season shorter farther north.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Pontederia cordata

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Pontederia cordata

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 6
Specimens with Barcodes: 11
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

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Management

These species are introduced in Switzerland.
  • Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève.   http://www.crsf.ch/ External link.
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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

No known varieties are available, but wetland nurseries carry local and regional ecotypes.

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Once established, it is very important to maintain water depths greater then saturation, but shallower than the leaves year round. Maintaining site hydrology within this range will improve survival over winter. Pickerelweed responds well to the addition of commercial or organic fertilizers. The vegetative portions of this species are seldom damaged by insects, diseases, birds, or mammals. The seeds are often preyed upon by waterfowl.

Tightly spaced clonal populations of this species often co-exist with other shoreline inhabitors. Once pickerelweed has become established, seldom will these other species of emergent vegetation grown within the perimeter of the pickerelweed clones.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preferred growing conditions are full to partial sun and shallow water to wet mucky soil. Pickerelweed is an emergent aquatic plant that doesn't like to dry out. Range & Habitat
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Uses

Pickerelweed forms large colonies along shallow shorelines. The emergent mass of stems and leaves provide wave-buffering protection. Although slow to spread, the root base of this plant thoroughly covers the sediments with a tough vegetative mat. The seed of pickerelweed is eaten by waterfowl. Geese and muskrats will consume the vegetation, while only fish, and to a lesser extent birds and small mammals, utilize flooded foliage for cover. This species is also used extensively in water gardening, due to its showy violet to blue flowers.

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Wikipedia

Pontederia cordata

Pontederia cordata, common name pickerelweed (USA) or pickerel weed (UK), is a monocotyledonous aquatic plant native to the American continent. It grows in a variety of wetlands, including pond and lake margins across an extremely large range from eastern Canada south to Argentina. A few examples include northern rivers,[2] the Everglades[3] and Louisiana.[4]

Ecology[edit]

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.[5] 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.[6] It is also negatively affected by competition from other wetland plants.[7] Like many wetland plants, it can survive unfavorable conditions as buried seeds in the soil.[8]

Flowers[edit]

The plant flowers in late summer. The purple flowers have yellow markings which may assist in attracting bees for pollination.[9] One bee species known to pollinate the flowers is Dufourea (Halictoides) novaeangliae.[10] Once the plant begins to produce seeds, the stem supporting the infloresence bends to submerse the fruits and seeds.[11] Seeds are dormant at the time of dispersal and will not germinate without stratification for 6-8 weeks.[12]

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.[13] Like many wetland and aquatic plants, the species can reproduce asexually by means of branching rhizomes, and hence can form large clonal stands.[14]

Pickerelweed near Ottawa, Ontario

Cultivation[edit]

This plant is cultivated as an ornamental garden plant, and has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ NatureServe (2006), "Pontederia cordata", NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life, Version 6.1., Arlington, Virginia, retrieved 2010-07-25 
  2. ^ Day, R. T., Keddy, P. A., McNeill, J., and Carleton, T. (1988). Fertility and disturbance gradients: a summary model for riverine marsh vegetation. Ecology, 69, 1044–54.
  3. ^ Loveless, C. M. (1959). A study of the vegetation in the Florida everglades. Ecology, 40, 1–9.
  4. ^ Keddy, P. A., Campbell, D., McFalls T., Shaffer, G., Moreau, R., Dranguet, C., and Heleniak, R. (2007). The wetlands of lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas: past, present and future. Environmental Reviews, 15, 1–35.
  5. ^ Laing, H. E. (1940). Respiration of the rhizomes of Nuphar advenum and other water plants. American Journal of Botany, 27, 574–81.
  6. ^ Keddy, P.A. 2010. Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation (2nd edition). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 497 p
  7. ^ Geho, E. M., Campbell, D., and Keddy, P. A. (2007). Quantifying ecological filters: the relative impact of herbivory, neighbours, and sediment on an oligohaline marsh. Oikos, 116, 1006–16.
  8. ^ Whigham, Dennis F. and Robert L. Simpson. 1982. Germination and dormancy studies of Pontederia cordata L. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 109: 524-528.
  9. ^ Sculthorpe, C. D. (1967). The Biology of Aquatic Vascular Plants. Reprinted 1985 Edward Arnold, by London. p. 280.
  10. ^ Hutchinson, G. E. (1975). A Treatise on Limnology, Vol. 3, Limnological Botany. New York: John Wiley. p.229.
  11. ^ Keddy, P.A. 2010. Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation (2nd edition). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 497 p. Figure 6.9.
  12. ^ Whigham, Dennis F. and Robert L. Simpson. 1982. Germination and dormancy studies of Pontederia cordata L. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 109: 524-528.
  13. ^ Adanson, Narukila; Rafinesque, Umsema; Rafinesque, Unisema (2002), "Pontederia cordata", in Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+, Flora of North America 26, New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 45 
  14. ^ Hutchinson, G. E. (1975). A Treatise on Limnology, Vol. 3, Limnological Botany. New York: John Wiley.
  15. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Pontederia cordata". Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
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Notes

Comments

Pontederia cordata has a large number of synonyms, at the levels of species, variety, and form (see R. M. Lowden 1973 for most names). Almost all these names are based on variations in leaf shape, but extensive morphological variation has been observed within single populations and even in individual plants. Study is needed to determine the cause of the extreme leaf base forms of cuneate on lanceolate blades and cordate on ovate blades. Variation has also been observed in peduncle pubescence. A velutinous peduncle and ovate leaf blade with slightly cuneate base is consistently found among some South American populations, hence recognition there of var. ovalis (Martius) Solms. 

 The reproductive biology of Pontederia cordata has been well studied (R. Ornduff 1966; S. D. Price and S. C. H. Barrett 1982, 1984). It is a tristylous species, and most populations contain all three morphs (S. D. Price and S. C. H. Barrett 1982). At least some degree of self-incompatibility exists, being strongest with the short-style morphs and weakest with the midstyle morphs (R. Ornduff 1966).

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