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Pickerel weed adaptations

Pickerel weed adaptations

Pickerel weed adaptations

This emergent aquatic, with its leaves and flowers above water and portions of the stem under water, is found typically in shallow, quiet water. The seeds can be eaten like nuts and the young leaf-stalks cooked as greens. Deer also feed on these plants. The common name suggests that this plant, as well as the fish known as pickerel, occupy the same habitat.

Pickerel

Pontederia cordata, common name pickerelweed (USA) or pickerel weed (UK), is a monocotyledonous aquatic plant native to the American continents. 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,Pickerel weed grows in shallow water no more than a foot deep. Shiny green lance-shaped leaves emerge in the spring from below the water and eventually grow to 3-5 feet above the surface. Purple-blue 3 to 4 inch long flower spikes can be seen several weeks after the appearance of foliage. Each flower spike holds numerous tubular purple flowers. Individual flowers last only a day, but this repeat bloomer can be enjoyed from spring through fall.

Beyond its visual allure, pickerel weed serves an important ecological purpose. The submerged portion, as with all aquatic plants, provides a habitat for the micro- and macro invertebrates that ultimately become a food source for fish, amphibians, ducks, and reptiles. Additionally, as aquatic plants die and decompose, bacteria and fungi break down the plant matter; the resulting detritus is food for many aquatic invertebrates. On top of that, the flowers are known to attract butterflies and the seeds are a tasty treat for ducks, making this plant a water garden winner.The two bright yellow spots on the upper lip of the flowers help guide bees to the center of the flower, making pollination more efficient. Bumblebees are frequent visitors. At least two types of bees, the pickerelweed long-horned bee (Melissodes apicatus) and the pickerelweed shortface (Dufourea novaeangliae), are essentially limited to visiting pickerel weed: they must feed pickerel weed pollen to their young. (Source: mdc.mo.gov)

 

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