- Basal and alternate. Petioles much longer than blades, with sheathing bases. Blades to 20 cm long, ovate to triangular, cordate, glabrous.
- Dense spike with numerous flowers.
- Perianth fused below the middle, 2-lipped, the lobes 6-10 mm long, lilac to purplish blue, the upper middle lobe with 2 yellow or white spots. Stamens 6, 3 longer and 3 shorter, the filaments attached near the middle of the anthers.
- Fruits utricles, 5-10 mm, long, ovoid, tapering to the persistent, coiled style base and enclosed by the persistent perianth tube, which is hard and roughened and develops 4-7 ridges with blunt teeth. Seeds 1 per fruit, 2-4 mm long.
- June - October.
- Swamps, lakes, ponds, river bottoms.
- Native to U.S.
- This striking species can be found in scattered locations throughout most of the state. The plant is easy to ID in the field because of its growth habit, shiny green leaves, and showy inflorescences with yellow-spotted purple flowers. It can, and often is, grown as an ornamental in garden ponds.
The young leaves of this species can be eaten as well as the nutritious, grain-like fruits. The seeds and rootstocks are an important food source for waterfowl, muskrats, and beavers.
Photographs taken in Brown Summit, NC., 6-10-02 (DETenaglia); also at Shaw Nature Reserve, Franklin County, MO, 6-26-2013, and at Busch Wildlife Area, St. Charles County, MO, 7-29-2015 (SRTurner).
Robert H. Mohlenbrock. USDA NRCS. 1995.
Northeast wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species
. Northeast National Technical Center, Chester. Provided by USDA NRCS Wetland Science Institute (WSI).
This plant can be weedy or invasive according to the authoritative sources noted below.This plant may be known by one or more common names in different places, and some are listed above. Click on an acronym to view each weed list, or click here for a composite list of
Weeds of the U.S.
Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 208. 1753.
Pontédérie cordée, langue du boeuf
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
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.
Flowering Mar--Nov in Florida; flowering season shorter farther north. Pond and lake margins; 0--500 m; 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.
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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