Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Pickerelweed: Pontederia cordata

Weed Description:  An erect, emerged aquatic perennial with attractive purple flowers.  Pickerelweed is a weed of ponds, lakes, ditches, and streams that is found throughout the southeastern United States.

Roots:  Rhizomes and a fibrous root system.

Leaves:  Leaves are variable in shape from lanceolate to lanceolate-ovate to triangular.  Leaves have heart-shaped bases, are thick, have parallel veins, may reach 120 mm in width and range from 6 to 12 inches long.  Leaves occur on long petioles.
Flowers: Flowers occur on the upper 2 to 6 inches of erect leafless stems.  Individual flowers are blue to purple in color and somewhat hairy.

Fruit:  An utricle, approximately 1/4 inch long.

Identifying Characteristics:  The relatively narrow, lanceolate-ovate to triangular leaves and attractive purple flowers on the ends of erect stems helps to distinguish pickerelweed from most other aquatic plants.  However, prior to flowering the leaves of pickerelweed may be mistaken for some of the arrowheads like Long-beaked Arrowhead (Sagittaria australis), but these weeds have leaves with lobes unlike the heart-shaped bases of pickerelweed.