Pontederia cordata

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: pickerel weed 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Pontederiaceae
Native Range: Eastern North America to Caribbean
Zone: 3 to 10
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to October
Bloom Description: Soft blue
Sun: Full sun
Water: Wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Water Plant, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Fruit: Showy, Edible


Winter hardy to USDA Zones 3-10. Needs full sun for best flowering. Set plant roots in spring into mud at the margins of a pond or in containers (rich organic loams) in a water garden under 3-5” of water. Outside of containers, rhizomes can spread rapidly to form colonies under optimum growing conditions. If spread is a concern, grow plants in containers.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pontederia cordata, commonly called pickerel weed, is a vigorous, deciduous, emergent marginal aquatic perennial that typically grows 2-4’ tall. It is native to quiet waters at stream and pond margins from Nova Scotia south to Florida and Texas. In Missouri, it is typically found growing in sloughs, swamps and ponds scattered in a few counties in the far eastern and far western parts of the State (Steyermark). In the wild, it is frequently seen growing in dense colonies. Glossy, narrow, arrowhead-shaped green leaves (to 10” long) have rounded cordate bases and rise well above the water surface. Tiny, tubular soft blue flowers are densely packed into erect, 3-6” long spikes atop flower stalks typically rising 1-2’ above the water surface. Plants flower freely from June to October. Flowers give way to starchy seeds with distinctive toothed ridges. Flower spikes droop after bloom, releasing the distinctive seeds into the water. Seeds are edible off the plant or can be dried and added to granola cereals. Very young leaves can be used as salad greens. Dragonflies and damselflies commonly lay their eggs on plant stems near the water surface. Fish (albeit more than just pickerel) may seek shelter in clumps of these plants, hence the common name of pickerel weed.

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

Specific epithet refers to the rounded cordate bases of the leaves.


No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for spider mites.


Water or bog gardens. Pond edges. Large containers or tubs.