Found primarily in the northeast part of Illinois, Pickerel Weed enjoys shallow water and mucky soils on shorelines in slow-moving streams, ponds, and emergent wetlands. This attractive plant is prized for its dense growth habit and its plentiful flowers that support a wide variety of wildlife. Pickerel Weed is a great addition to any wetland planting.
While the beautiful spikes of blue-violet flowers provide nectar and pollen to various types of bees, flies, and butterflies, the seeds are consumed by waterbirds and the foliage is occasionally browsed by White-Tailed Deer. This plant also provides excellent habitat benefits for animals that require shallow calm water for egg-laying and rearing, such as frogs and many species of fish that seek out the shaded shallow thickets that make predation difficult.
Pickerel Weed is one member of a large group of plants that anyone might find in wetland plantings throughout Northeast Illinois. Often paired with other showy emergent plants such as Water Plantain (Alisma subcordatum), Common Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia), and Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). Pickerel Weed makes a great showy addition to natural areas that benefit not only the people living nearby or visiting but also the local wildlife.
This week's photos were taken at Armstrong Park within the onsite wetland basins off Klein Creek. One of many examples of a successful native planting.