Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

General: Arrowhead Family (Alismataceae). Sagittaria cuneata is an aquatic plant growing in swampy ground or standing water in ponds, lakes, stream edges, and ditches (Hickman 1993). Wapato have white or bluish tubers, which are edible. The leaves are sagittate, with 5-15 cm long erect or floating leaf blades; the lower lobes of the emergent leaf blades are less than the terminal lobe. The inflorescence is simple or branching, often with the lower flowers pistillate and the upper ones staminate. The flowers are white, with three white petals and 3 sepals. Stamens are numerous and bright yellow. The pistils are numerous, spirally arranged on the receptacle. The fruit is a greenish colored achene.

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Alternative names

Indian potato, arrowhead

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Distribution

Alta., B.C., Man., N.B., Nfld. and Labr. (Labr.), N.W.T., N.S., Ont., Que., Sask., Yukon; Alaska, Ariz., Calif., Colo., Conn., Idaho, Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Maine, Mass., Mich., Minn., Mont., Nebr., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.Mex., N.Y., N.Dak., Ohio, Okla., Oreg., Pa., S.Dak., Tex., Utah, Vt., Wash., Wis., Wyo.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site. Sagittaria species are obligate wetland plants found in marshes and wetlands throughout temperate North America. Sagittaria cuneata is transcontinental, extending from north central Alaska to Labrador, extending south to California and northern Texas. In California, Sagittaria cuneata ranges from middle to high elevations < 2500 m. Sagittaria species grow in ponds, slow streams, ditches and freshwater wetlands.

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Sagittaria cuneata fo. equiloba Fernald:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Sagittaria cuneata fo. hemicycla Fernald:
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Sagittaria cuneata E. Sheld.:
Canada (North America)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Herbs, perennial, to 110 cm; rhizomes absent; stolons present; corms present. Leaves emersed, floating, and submersed; submersed phyllodial, flattened, to 45 cm; floating with petiole triangular, to 100 cm, blade cordate or sagittate, rarely linear or ovate, 7.5--9 ´ 3.5--4 cm; emersed with petiole recurved, 3.5--51 cm, blade linear to sagittate, 2.5--17 ´ 1.5--11 cm, basal lobes when present shorter than remainder of blade. Inflorescences racemes, rarely panicles, of 2--10 whorls, emersed, 14--21 ´ 2--10 cm, peduncle triangular, 10--50 cm; bracts connate more than or equal to ¼ total length, lance-attenuate or acute, mostly (4--)7--40 mm, membranous, not papillose; fruiting pedicels ascending, cylindric, 0.5--2 cm. Flowers to 25 mm diam.; sepals recurved, not enclosing flower or fruiting head; filaments not dilated, equal to or longer than anthers, glabrous; pistillate pedicellate, without ring of sterile stamens. Fruiting heads 0.8--1.5 cm diam.; achenes obovoid, abaxially keeled, 1.8--2.6 ´ 1.3--2.5 mm, beaked; face not tuberculate, wings 0--1, ± entire, glands 0--1; beak apical, erect, 0.1--0.4 mm. 2n = 22.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Sagittaria arifolia Nuttall ex J. G. Smith
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Type Information

Isotype for Sagittaria cuneata E. Sheld.
Catalog Number: US 517556
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): E. P. Sheldon
Year Collected: 1892
Locality: East Battle lake, OtterTail, Minnesota, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Sheldon, E. P. 1893. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 20: 283.
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Isotype for Sagittaria suksdorfii Gand.
Catalog Number: US 529531
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Card file verified by examination of alleged type specimen
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): W. N. Suksdorf
Year Collected: 1896
Locality: Falcon Valley, Klickitat, Washington, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Gandoger, M. 1920. Bull. Soc. Bot. France. 66: 294.
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Isotype for Sagittaria cuneata E. Sheld.
Catalog Number: US 61781
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): E. P. Sheldon
Year Collected: 1892
Locality: East Battle Lake., Otter Tail, Minnesota, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Sheldon, E. P. 1893. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 20: 283.
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Isotype for Sagittaria hebetiloba A. Nelson
Catalog Number: US 138919
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): A. Nelson
Year Collected: 1896
Locality: Platte Canyon., Laramie, Wyoming, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Nelson, A. 1899. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 26: 6.
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Isotype for Sagittaria hebetiloba A. Nelson
Catalog Number: US 344827
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): A. Nelson
Year Collected: 1896
Locality: Platte Canyon., Laramie, Wyoming, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Nelson, A. 1899. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 26: 6.
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Ecology

Habitat

Calcareous and muddy shores and shallow waters of rivers, lakes, ponds, pastures, and ditches, occasional in tidal waters, or in deep flowing water with slow current; 100--2500m.
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Dispersal

Establishment

Sagittaria species may be planted from bare root stock, by transplanting the tubers, and by seeding directly into wetland soil. Live plant transplants or transplanting tubers are preferred revegetation methods where there is moving water. It takes two years for seed to germinate; planting bare root stock or tubers gives faster revegetation results.

Live Plant Collections: No more than 1/4 of the plants in an area should be collected. A depth of 15 cm (6 in) is sufficiently deep for digging plugs. This will leave enough plants and rhizomes to grow back during the growing season.

Wild plants should be collected from the time leaves emerge in spring until first frost. Plants can be pulled up easily from wet soil. When collecting wild plants, rinse roots gently. Leaves and stems can be clipped from 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 inches); this allows the plant to allocate more energy into root production. The roots should always remain moist or in water until planted. Plants should be transported and stored in a cool location prior to planting. Water depth should be 0 to 6" and the soils should be wet.

Sagittaria grows prolifically around ponds or wetlands in shallow water. Plug spacing of 25-30 cm will fill in within one growing season. Soil should be kept saturated, with approximately 1 cm of water over the surface of the soil after planting. If water is low in nutrients (oligotrophic), fertilization will speed biomass production and revegetation. Many surface waters are already rich in nutrients (eutrophic), and fertilization is not necessary.

Transplanting tubers: Transplant success may be greater with the tubers than with bare root stock. The little underground potatoes can be separated from the parent plants with a rake, hoe, or shovel. In unconsolidated soils, the tubers can be pulled up by hand by searching around the roots of the plant.

After collecting, the Sagittaria tubers should be kept moist and cool, and stored in peat moss. Wapato tubers are then planted in shallow water, in the same conditions as described above for the whole plants. Tubers should be collected and planted when plants are dormant, in the fall, winter and early spring.

Seeds: Seeds of Sagittaria species take two years to germinate, because they have a double dormancy requiring cold then warm then cold temperatures. Temperature has a multiple role in the regulation of timing of germination. Dormant seeds become nondormant only at specific temperatures, non-dormant seeds have specific temperature requirements for germination, and nondormant seeds of some species are induced into dormancy by certain temperatures. Once Sagittaria seeds germinate, they have fairly high viability.

Procedures for growing Sagittaria seeds in the greenhouse have not been developed at this time; however, Sagittaria seeds can be planted directly in wetlands or ponds. Prepare the area by creating a washboard in shallow water, at mudflat consistency. Seeds should then be scattered on the surface of the soil, as the seeds need sunlight to germinate well. Light and temperature in natural conditions will promote seed germination, and in two years Sagittaria plants will emerge.

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering late spring--summer (Jun--Sep).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Sagittaria cuneata

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.

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Management

Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

This species is readily available from native plant nurseries within its range. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”

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Hydrology is the most important factor in determining wetland type, revegetation success, and wetland function and value. Changes in water levels influence species composition, structure, and distribution of plant communities. Water management is absolutely critical during plant establishment, and remains crucial through the life of the wetland for proper community management. Sagittaria species require moist soils to standing water for successful revegetation.

Muskrats have evolved with wetland ecosystems and form a valuable component of healthy functioning wetland communities. Muskrat eat-outs increase wetland diversity by opening up the dense tule and cattail stands, and providing opportunities for aquatic vegetation, such as Sagittaria to become established in the open water. Muskrat huts provide a substrate for shrubs and other plant species. Caches of Sagittaria tubers stored by muskrat and beaver were often sought by Indian people.

We have no record of specific traditional resource management techniques other than anecdotal information of the use of fire to keep dense tule marshes open, which provided an opportunity for colonization and spread of Sagittaria species. The harvest of arrowhead was usually made in late summer as the stems and leaves were dying (and usually when the water table was lower) (Balls 1962).

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

Ethnobotanic: Sagittaria is an aquatic plant with tuberous roots that can be eaten like potatoes. The tubers of Sagittaria species were eaten by many different Indigenous groups in Canada, as well as many groups of Washington and Oregon (Kuhnlein and Turner 1991). The tubers were widely traded from harvesting centers to neighboring areas. On the Lower Columbia in Chinook Territory, Katzie families owned large patches of the wapato plants. Family groups camped beside their harvesting sites for a month or more.

Indian women collected wapato in shallow water from a canoe, or waded into ponds or marshes in the late summer and loosened the roots with their toes. The roots would rise to the top of the water where they were gathered and tossed into floating baskets. Today, the tubers are harvested with a hoe, pitchfork, or rake. Tubers are baked in fire embers, boiled, or roasted in the ashes. Tubers are skinned and eaten whole or mashed. After cooking, some tubers were dried and stored for winter use. The Chippewa gathered the "Indian potatoes" in the fall, strung them, and hung them overhead in the wigwam to dry. Later, they were boiled for use.

Medicinally, the Maidu of California used an infusion of arrowhead roots to clean and treat wounds. The Navaho use these plants for headaches. The Ojibwa and the Chippewa used Sagittaria species as a remedy for indigestion. The Cherokee used an infusion of leaves to bath feverish babies, with one sip given orally. The Iroquois used wapato for rheumatism, a dermatological aid, a laxative, and as a ceremonial blessing when they began planting corn.

Wildlife: The small, flattish seeds of arrowheads are eaten by ducks, and the tubers are valuable to many species of wildlife. Muskrat and porcupine are known to eat the tubers Swans, geese, wood ducks, blue-winged teal, lesser and greater scaup, ruddy duck, ring necked duck, pintail, mallard, mottled duck, gadwall, canvasback, black duck and king rail are known to eat arrowhead seeds and tubers (Martin 1951).

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Wikipedia

Sagittaria cuneata

Sagittaria cuneata is a species of flowering plant in the water plantain family known by the common name arumleaf arrowhead. Like some other Sagittaria species, it may be called wapato. It is native to much of North America, including most of Canada (every province and territory except Nunavut) as well as the western and northeastern United States (New England, Great Lakes, Great Plains, Rocky Mountain, Great Basin and Pacific Coast states; including Alaska but not Hawaii). [2][3]


Sagittaria cuneatais an aquatic plant, growing in slow-moving and stagnant water bodies such as ponds and small streams. It is quite variable in appearance, and submerged parts of the plant look different from those growing above the surface or on land. In general it is a perennial herb growing from a white or blue-tinged tuber. The leaves are variable in shape, many of them sagittate (arrow-shaped) with two smaller, pointed lobes opposite the tip. The leaf blades are borne on very long petioles. The plant is monoecious, with individuals bearing both male and female flowers. The inflorescence which rises above the surface of the water is a raceme made up of several whorls of flowers, the lowest node bearing female flowers and upper nodes bearing male flowers. The flower is up to 2.5 centimeters wide with white petals. The male flowers have rings of yellow stamens at the centers. Each female flower has a spherical cluster of pistils which develops into a group of tiny fruits.[4][5][6][7][8]

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Notes

Comments

Sagittaria cuneata is extremely variable. On emersed plants, the leaf petioles are often bent toward the ground. Submersed plants often grow from a basal rosette with a long flexuous petiole and a floating sagittate leave. Plants in deep rivers often develop broad, straplike phyllodia.
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