Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Pickerelweed inflorescence

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Pickerelweed Flower Spike 4133

That purplish haze you saw behind the curved smartweed flower stalk last time came from another water-loving plant, Pontederia cordata, known as pickerelweed (and there’s another “weed” for you). Now have a look at some pickerelweed flowers in their own right, in a view that’s likewise from June 2nd at the pond behind the truck depot on E. Howard Ln.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 1, 2015 at 5:09 AM

17 Responses

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  1. Another beautiful weed to add to your collection.


    August 1, 2015 at 5:52 AM

  2. Even weeds are beautiful.

    Raewyn's Photos

    August 1, 2015 at 2:58 PM

  3. When I was reading about the habits of smartweed, pickerelweed was mentioned. As a matter of fact, I received my copy of Tiner’s Field Guide to Coastal Wetland Plants yesterday, and looked up both the smart and pickerel weeds. The book has very well done line drawings rather than photographs, and very clear notes about easily confused plants.

    It’s interesting that this plant and the fish known as the grass pickerel inhabit the same area. I wondered if the grass got its name from the fish, but I haven’t found anything definitive.


    August 1, 2015 at 5:35 PM

    • According to what I read years ago, the plant did indeed get named for the fish.

      I see that the Tiner book pertains to the Northeast, but some plants from there are native in Texas too (or else there are regional species of the same genera).

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 1, 2015 at 7:52 PM

      • There may be two books then, or more. The one I have has the full title of “Coastal Wetland Plants of the Southeastern United States, and it includes both Louisiana and Texas.


        August 1, 2015 at 7:55 PM

        • Ah, that one didn’t immediately turn up in my search, but I’m glad that it exists and that you’ve now got a copy.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 1, 2015 at 7:59 PM

      • John Todaro, here on WP, has recently done a painterly pic of the pickerelweed, currently in my sidebar. He’s in the northeast. It’s pretty, just like this one — I especially like the two white eyes above its mouth…if you can imagine it.


        August 3, 2015 at 6:54 AM

        • I see that is photograph is from the Adirondacks, which are mountains in upstate New York that I visited a few times as a child.

          I can indeed imagine the pair of white eyes. In other photographs I’ve taken of pickerelweed over the years I’ve been able to make those more prominent than in this view.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 3, 2015 at 7:19 AM

  4. It really is amazing how many plants have “weed” as part of the name. I’ve photographed these a few times but never as nicely close up as you have done here, Steve. Lovely look at the flowers.

    Steve Gingold

    August 1, 2015 at 6:06 PM

    • When I’ve gone for detailed pictures of pickerelweed and other species that grow in wet areas, I’ve often put on rubber boots so I could get as close as I was to this plant. Maybe this will be your year for a close encounter of the pickerelweed kind.

      I’ve photographed some three dozen native plants in the Austin area that have “weed” in at least one of their common names. Would you estimate there are that many in your neck of the woods?

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 1, 2015 at 7:58 PM

  5. We have Pickerelweed everywhere here in our wetlands, but I’ve never come close to getting such a beautiful photo
    Wonderful shot!

    Birder's Journey

    August 4, 2015 at 9:51 PM

    • Thanks. The secret to getting close to a photo like this is to get physically close to the pickerelweed, which for me meant wearing rubber boots so I could stand in the shallow water near the plants.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 4, 2015 at 11:11 PM

  6. One of my fantasies is to somehow own my dad’s house so I can watch the pond turn into a wet meadow, something that it has started doing. (I may have mentioned that already. Sorry if I am repeating myself) I would plant lots of Pickerel weed along the shore, and Iris, and Jewelweed. They would make wonderful accents along the shore, and beyond one could enjoy the bullfrogs and the spatterdock. One of the joys of this beautiful plant for me is its association with mud 🙂 i have never succeeded in getting a good photo of it either, though, so am really enjoying yours.


    September 6, 2015 at 10:56 AM

    • I hope your fantasy comes true and you end up owning your dad’s house. I don’t recall that you’ve mentioned it before (where is it?), nor the fact that the pond there is turning into a wet meadow. I also don’t recall your affinity for mud, which reminds me of Shannon at


      As for pickerelweed, a couple of years ago at


      I showed a first picture of one in this blog, but I seem to remember even better pictures in the years before I started posting. With any species, getting good pictures depends so much on the specimens a photographer happens to run across. I’ve often wondered what great things I missed by not being in the right place at the right time, perhaps even very close to where I was.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 6, 2015 at 2:14 PM

  7. […] The previous post teased you by allowing only a faraway glimpse of a flowering pickerelweed colony through a thick frame of giant bulrushes. Today’s post parts the veil and zooms you across the water to see those plants as they looked on May 19th when they brightened the edge of a Blackland Prairie pond in far northeast Austin. For a closeup of a Pontederia cordata flower spike, you can check out a 2015 post from the same location. […]

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