Florida’s Pontederia cordata also known as Pickerelweed (another elegant name for a native, eh?) is an important wetland wildflower that blooms heavily in the late spring and early summer here in our parts. Pollinators love it, it makes a good cut flower and it’s edible.
I have developed a deep affection for Pontederia and feel it especially when in our wetland fields, surrounded by hovering bees, dragonflies and other tiny insects and critters that also love this plant. It is important to our environment because it helps to remove pollutants in stormwater, stabilizes shorelines and provides nursery areas and habitat for many different species of aquatics and other wildlife.
I use it in our spring and early summer weddings and as Mother’s Day floral arrangements, but it also has a late summer blooming period. As a cut flower, it can last for a few days and the multitude of tiny flowers and buds that cover the flower stalk will sometimes continue to bloom in the vase after being cut. Be sure to cut the really fresh, young flowering stalks.
The small, open, closed or curled purple flowers lend themselves to an overall fabric-like appearance, or as I put it, “like a cozy sweater!” The younger flower heads, before they open, appear soft and I use them in boutonnieres and corsages.
As an edible, pick the young leaf stalks before they are completely unfurled and add them to salads raw, eat the raw fruits and seeds, or boil the leaf stalks (boil 10 minutes, drain and season). (Source: Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide to over 200 Natural Foods by Elias and Dykeman)
If you are interested in planting Pontederia cordata in your garden, you will need soil that is saturated with fresh water, perhaps a pond edge or as a swale or rain garden planting. We usually have them available for sale at our nursery, www.floridanativeplants.com.
Thanks for reading!
Annie, William’s Wildflowers – Florida