Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

This is a highly variable species that has fairly attractive foliage and flowers. It is an important source of food to ducks. Other Sagittaria spp. (Arrowheads) occur within the state, but they are less common; some of them are difficult to distinguish from Common Arrowhead. Generally, Common Arrowhead has the following key characteristics
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Description

This perennial plant is up to 3½' tall, consisting of a rosette of basal leaves and one or more flowering stalks. The leaves have blades that are up to 16" long and 10" across, but they are usually closer to half this size. The leaf blades are sagittate and smooth along their margins; they have conspicuous parallel veins and smaller lateral veins. The petioles of the leaves are up to 2' long and rather stout; they broaden toward the base and become sheath-like. There is considerable variability in the width of the leaf blades and the length of their basal lobes. The flowering stalks are about as tall as the leaves or slightly taller and more or less erect; they are terete, becoming more stout toward the base of the plant. Both the leaves and flowering stalks are glabrous and contain a milky sap. Each of these stalks terminates in whorls of 2-3 flowers. Most plants are monoecious; they have staminate flowers located on the upper portion of each stalk, while the pistillate flowers are located below. Occasionally, dioecious plants occur, and sometimes perfect flowers are produced. Each flower is about 1" across or slighter broader, consisting of 3 white petals and 3 green sepals. The staminate flowers have numerous stamens that are golden yellow, while the pistillate flowers have multiple carpels that are green and form a bur-like mass. The petals are rather broad and well-rounded; their upper surface has a satiny lustre. The filaments of the stamens have a smooth surface.The pedicel of each flower is up to 1" long. At the base of each whorl of flowers, there are 2-3 green bracts that are linear-lanceolate. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early fall, lasting about 1 month. The pistillate flowers are replaced by bur-like fruits up to 1" across; these fruits consist of a dense cluster of achenes. Each achene is flattened, 3-angled, and winged; it has a straight beak that projects laterally from the center of the bur-like fruit. The root system consists of a tuft of coarse roots, which often develop starchy tubers; long rhizomes or stolons are also produced. Reproduction is by seeds or rhizomes/stolons. This plant occasionally forms colonies.
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Description

General: Arrowhead Family (Alismataceae). Both Sagittaria latifolia and Sagittaria cuneata are aquatic plants growing in swampy ground or standing water in ponds, lakes, stream edges, and ditches (Hickman 1993). Both species have white or bluish tubers, which are edible. The leaves are sagittate, with leaf blades are either erect or floating on the surface of the water. S. cuneata leaf blades are smaller, from 5-15 cm, and the lower lobes of emergent leaf blades are less than the terminal lobe. In S. latifolia, leaf blades are from 6-30 cm, and the lower lobes of the emergent leaf blade are approximately equal to 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 an achene and is greenish colored. A diagnostic feature distinguishing the two species is the beak on the fruit of S. cuneata is ascending to erect and <0.5 mm; the beak on the fruit of S. latifolia is spreading and 1-2 mm.

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Alternative names

Arrowhead, Indian potato, tule potato, wapato

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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Alta., B.C., Man., N.B., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que., Sask.; Ala., Ark., Calif., Colo., 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., N.Dak., Ohio, Okla., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.; c, s Mexico; Central America (Guatemala); South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela).
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

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. The ranges of S. cuneata and S. latifolia overlap. S. latifolia is found from central and southern British Columbia to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, south to California and into South America. In California, S. latifolia is confined to lower elevations <1500 m. Sagittaria species grow in ponds, slow streams, ditches and freshwater wetlands.

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Urospatha friedrichsthaliana Schott:
Ecuador (South America)
Nicaragua (Mesoamerica)
Panama (Mesoamerica)

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 ornithorhyncha Small:
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 pubescens Muhl.:
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 longirostra (Micheli) J.G. Sm.:
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 viscosa C. Mohr:
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 planipes 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 latifolia fo. gracilis (Engelm.) B.L. Rob.:
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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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Sagittaria latifolia fo. hastata (Pursh) B.L. Rob.:
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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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Sagittaria latifolia var. obtusa (Muhl. ex Willd.) Wiegand:
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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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Sagittaria latifolia var. pubescens (Muhl.) J.G. Sm.:
Honduras (Mesoamerica)
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 latifolia var. latifolia :
Canada (North America)
Costa Rica (Mesoamerica)
Guatemala (Mesoamerica)
Honduras (Mesoamerica)
Mexico (Mesoamerica)
Nicaragua (Mesoamerica)
United States (North America)
Caribbean (Caribbean)

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 latifolia Willd.:
Canada (North America)
Costa Rica (Mesoamerica)
Mexico (Mesoamerica)
United States (North America)
Nicaragua (Mesoamerica)
Guatemala (Mesoamerica)
Honduras (Mesoamerica)
Ecuador (South America)
Caribbean (Caribbean)
Colombia (South America)
Venezuela (South 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 45 cm; rhizomes absent; stolons present; corms present. Leaves emersed; petiole triangular, erect to ascending, 6.5--51 cm; blade sagittate, rarely hastate, 1.5--30.5 ´ 2--17 cm, basal lobes equal to or less than remainder of blade. Inflorescences racemes, rarely panicles, of 3--9 whorls, emersed, 4.5--28.5 ´ 4--23 cm; peduncles 10--59 cm; bracts connate more than or equal to ¼ total length, elliptic to lanceolate, 3--8 mm, delicate, not papillose; fruiting pedicels spreading, cylindric, 0.5--3.5 cm. Flowers to 4 cm diam.; sepals recurved to spreading, not enclosing flower or fruiting head; filaments cylindric, longer than anthers, glabrous; pistillate pedicellate, without ring of sterile stamens. Fruiting heads 1--1.7 cm diam; achenes oblanceoloid, without abaxial keel, 2.5--3.5 ´ to 2 mm, beaked; faces not tuberculate, wings absent, glands (0--)1(--2); beak lateral, horizontal, 1--2 mm. 2n = 22.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Sagittaria latifolia var. obtusa (Muhlenberg) Wiegand; S. latifolia var. pubescens (Engelmann) J. G. Smith; S. ornithorhyncha Small; S. planipes Fernald; S. pubescens Muhlenberg; S. viscosa C. Mohr
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Type Information

Type collection for Sagittaria viscosa C. Mohr
Catalog Number: US 875151
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): C. T. Mohr
Year Collected: 1896
Locality: Alabama, United States, North America
  • Type collection: Mohr, C. 1897. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 24: 19.
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Type material for Sagittaria latifolia Willd.
Catalog Number: US 690947
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): H. Muhlenberg
Locality: "a Canada ad Carolinam"., Canada / United States, North America
  • Type material: Willdenow, C. L. 1805. Sp. Pl. 4: 409.
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Ecology

Habitat

Wet ditches, pools, and margins of streams and lakes; 0--1500m.
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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. If no more than 0.09 m² (1 ft²) are removed from a 0.4 m2 (4 ft2) area, the plants will grow back into the hole in one good growing season. 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 after the leaves begin to emerge in the spring until the first frost. The 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 1/2" 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.

Indian potatoes 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 potatoes should be kept moist and cool, and stored in peat moss. Potatoes are then planted in shallow water, in the same conditions as described above for the whole plants. Potatoes should be collected and planted when plants are dormant, in the fall, winter and early spring.

Seed Germination: 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 non-dormant only at specific temperatures, non-dormant seeds have specific temperature requirements for germination, and non-dormant 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.

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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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Common Arrowhead in Illinois

Sagittaria latifolia (Common Arrowhead)
(On pistillate flowers, all insects suck nectar; on staminate flowers, bees suck nectar or collect pollen, while other insects suck nectar primarily; observations are from Robertson)

On staminate flowers:

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus pensylvanica sn cp fq; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina dupla dupla sn; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile brevis sn cp

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon virescens sn, Augochlorella striata sn cp, Halictus ligatus sn, Lasioglossum imitatus sn, Lasioglossum nelumbonis sn, Lasioglossum pectoralis sn cp, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn cp, Lasioglossum versatus sn fq

Wasps
Sphecidae (Bembicinae): Pseudoplisus phaleratus sn; Sphecidae (Larrinae): Tachytes aurulenta sn; Sapygidae: Sapyga interrupta sn; Tiphiidae: Myzinum quinquecincta sn; Vespidae (Eumeninae): Euodynerus annulatus sn, Leionotus ziziae (Rb, MS), Stenodynerus anormis sn

Flies
Syrphidae: Eristalis arbustorum sn, Orthonevra nitida fp, Rhingia nasica sn, Syritta pipiens sn, Toxomerus marginatus sn; Empidae: Empis clausa sn; Bombyliidae: Sparnopolius confusus sn; Tachinidae: Archytas analis sn, Clausicella geniculata sn, Deopalpus hirsutus sn; Calliphoridae: Lucilia sericata sn; Muscidae: Limnophora narona sn

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Chlosyne nycteis sn, Phyciodes tharos sn; Lycaenidae: Lycaena hyllus sn

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Ancyloxypha numitor sn, Polites themistocles sn

Moths
Ctenuchidae: Cisseps fulvicollis sn

Beetles
Cantharidae: Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus sn; Chrysomelidae: Diabrotica undecimpunctata sn; Coccinellidae: Coleomegilla maculata fp icp

On pistillate flowers:

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus pensylvanica sn fq

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon virescens sn, Augochlorella striata sn, Augochloropsis metallica metallica sn, Lasioglossum pectoralis sn, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus sn

Wasps
Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Prionyx atrata sn; Philanthidae: Cerceris compacta sn; Sapygidae: Sapyga interrupta sn; Tiphiidae: Myzinum quinquecincta sn; Vespidae: Polistes fuscata sn; Vespidae (Eumeninae): Euodynerus annulatus sn

Flies
Syrphidae: Eristalis arbustorum sn, Syritta pipiens sn; Tachinidae: Archytas analis sn, Copecrypta ruficauda sn, Spallanzania hesperidarum sn; Calliphoridae: Lucilia illustris sn; Sarcophagidae: Helicobia rapax sn, Sarcophaga sinuata sn

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Phyciodes tharos sn; Pieridae: Colias philodice sn

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Ancyloxypha numitor sn

Moths
Ctenuchidae: Cisseps fulvicollis sn

Beetles
Cantharidae: Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus sn

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Faunal Associations

The flowers are pollinated by various insects, including bumblebees, Halictid bees, small butterflies, wasps, flies, and beetles. The bees suck nectar or collect pollen, the beetles suck nectar or feed on pollen, and other insects suck nectar. Some insects feed on the foliage and other parts of Common Arrowhead and other Sagittaria spp. These insect feeders include several semi-aquatic leaf beetles (Donacia spp.), the semi-aquatic weevils Listronotus delumbis and Lixellus lutulentus, the Waterlily Aphid (Rhopalosiphum nymphaeae), and the larvae of Bellura obliqua (Cattail Borer Moth). Young larvae of the latter moth mine leaves or petioles, while older larvae bore into the root crown and rhizomes. Ducks and other waterfowl eat the seeds or tubers (see Waterfowl Table). Muskrats also feed on the tubers, rhizomes, and foliage. Photographic Location
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering summer--fall.
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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Leaves adjust to changing environment: Common arrowhead
 

Leaves of Sagittaria latifolia allow survival in fluctuating water levels by changing leaf type.

       
  "Fluctuations in water levels are a common feature of wetlands (Chapter 2). Consequently, wetland plants can encounter a variety of water depths seasonally and interannually. Even submersed plants may have to endure periods without standing water and most have a terrestrial form. Not surprisingly, wetland plants show a great deal of phenotypic plasticity (Fig. 4.9), and this allows them to adjust their growth as water levels change. One type of phenotypic plasticity that is widespread among macrophytes is heterophylly (Wells and Pigliucci 2000; Minorsky 2003; Dorken and Barrett 2004). Heterophylly is the ability to produce different leaf types (Figs 4.6 and 4.9). Two kinds of leaves are commonly produced by herbaceous wetland species, submerged and aerial. Submerged leaves are thin, lack or have a greatly reduced cuticle, and lack functional stomata. Aerial leaves are thicker, have a cuticle, and have stomata (Fig. 4.6). Changes in leaf shape, size, and thickness and petiole or leaf/shoot length are common in facultatively heterophyllous species. The porosity of their roots can also change significantly as soils become anoxic after flooding in flood-responders (Fig. 4.7). These morphological responses primarily serve as a way to improve oxygen uptake by leaves, the volume of internal gas storage, and the efficiency of internal gas redistribution by diffusion." (van der Valk 2006:67)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • van der Valk, A. 2006. The Biology of Freshwater Wetlands. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 173 p.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Sagittaria latifolia

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T5 - Secure

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T5 - Secure

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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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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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Management

These species are introduced in Switzerland.
  • Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève.   http://www.crsf.ch/ External link.
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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

Available from native plant nurseries specializing in aquatic plants. 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.

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

Cultivation

The preference is full or partial sun, wet conditions, and a rich organic soil. This is an emergent aquatic plant that usually grows in shallow water. Sometimes it can spread aggressively. Range & Habitat
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Uses

Ethnobotanic: Sagittaria is an aquatic plant with tuberous roots that can be eaten like potatoes. Lewis and Clark found it at the mouth of the Willamette and considered it equal to the potato, and valuable for trade. Indian women collected it 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 roasting, 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.

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 also widely traded from harvesting centers to neighboring areas. The tubers were also a major item of commerce on the Lower Columbia in Chinook Territory. Katzie families owned large patches of the plant and clearing the patches claimed ownership. Family groups would camp beside their claimed harvesting sites for a month or more.

A species of Sagittaria grows in China, and is sold in the markets of China and Japan as food, the corms being full of starch. Sagittaria latifolia is extensively cultivated in the San Francisco Bay area in California to supply the Chinese markets, and the tubers are commonly to be found on sale. The Chinese, on coming to California, used it for food and may have cultivated it somewhat. In so doing, they are believed to have extended its range into the southern part of the state (Mason 1957).

Medicinally, the Maidu of California used an infusion of arrowhead roots to clean and treat wounds. The Navajo 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 bathe feverish babies, with one sip given orally. The Iroquois used it for rheumatism, a dermatological aid, and a laxative. The Iroquois used it as a ceremonial blessing when they began planting corn.

Wildlife: Tubers are planted as an wildlife food. Ducks eat the small, flat seeds of arrowheads, but the tubers are the most valuable to 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. For wildlife use, the tubers of Sagittaria latifolia are often too large and too deeply buried to be useful to ducks (Martin 1951).

Muskrats have evolved with wetland ecosystems and form a valuable component of healthy functioning wetland communities. Muskrats use emergent wetland vegetation such as Sagittaria species for food. Muskrat grazed areas increase wetland diversity by opening up the dense stands of Typha and Schoenoplectus (Scirpus) species, 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. Indian people often sought caches of Sagittaria tubers stored by muskrat and beaver.

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Wikipedia

Sagittaria latifolia

Arrowhead, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy414 kJ (99 kcal)
Carbohydrates20.23 g
Fat0.29 g
Protein5.33 g
Thiamine (vit. B1)0.17 mg (15%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2)0.073 mg (6%)
Niacin (vit. B3)1.65 mg (11%)
Pantothenic acid (B5)0.599 mg (12%)
Vitamin B60.26 mg (20%)
Folate (vit. B9)14 μg (4%)
Vitamin C1.1 mg (1%)
Calcium10 mg (1%)
Iron2.57 mg (20%)
Magnesium51 mg (14%)
Manganese0.36 mg (17%)
Phosphorus174 mg (25%)
Potassium922 mg (20%)
Sodium22 mg (1%)
Zinc0.28 mg (3%)
Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated
using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Sagittaria latifolia is a plant found in shallow wetlands and is sometimes known as broadleaf arrowhead, duck potato, Indian potato, or wapato. This plant produces edible tubers that were extensively used by the Indigenous peoples of the Americas.[1]

Description[edit]

Broadleaf arrowhead is a variable-sized (2 to 10 meters in length) perennial growing in colonies that can cover large amounts of ground. The roots are white and thin, producing white tubers covered with a purplish skin a good distance (0.3 to 1 m long, 0.15 to 0.6 meter deep) from the mother plant. It is green and white.

The plant has a stem to speak of, producing a rosette of leaves and an inflorescence on a long rigid hamp. The leaves are extremely variable, from very thin at 1 to 2 cm to wedge shaped like those of Sagittaria cuneata. Spongious and solid, the leaves have parallel venation meeting in the middle and the extremities.

The inflorescence is a raceme composed of large flowers whorled by threes. Usually divided into female flowers on the lower part and male on the upper, although dioecious individuals are also found. Three round, white petals and three very short curved, dark green sepals. Male flowers are easily distinguished from female due to the dissimilarity between the 25 to 50 yellow stamens of the male and the sphere of green carpels of the female ones.

The name of Shubenacadie, a community located in central Nova Scotia, Canada, means "abounding in ground nuts" (i.e., broadleaf arrowhead) in the Mi'kmaq language.

Distribution[edit]

Widespread across North America, but also found natively in Hawaii, the Caribbean and the northern part of South America, broadleaf arrowhead has been introduced in Europe and Australia, where it is considered an invasive weed. The plant is considered rare in Alberta. It can be found frequently in the Fraser Valley region of British Columbia.

Ecology[edit]

Extremely frequent as an emergent plant, broadleaf arrowhead forms dense colonies on very wet soils that become more open as the species mixes with other species of deeper water levels. These colonies forms long bands following the curves of rivers, ponds and lakes, well marked by the dark green color of the leaves. The plant has strong roots and can survive through wide variations of the water level, slow currents and waves. It displays an affinity for high levels of phosphates and hard waters.

Despite the name Duck Potato, ducks rarely consume the tubers, which are usually buried too deep for them to reach, although they often consume the seeds. Beavers, North American Porcupines, and Muskrats, however, eat the whole plant, tubers included.

Cultivation[edit]

Easily cultivated in 0.15 m to 0.45 m of water with no or little current. Plant tubers well spaced (no more than 12 plants per square meter) at the end of May at a depth of 5 to 7 cm. Fertilize with decomposed manure. Multiply through seeding or division in July. The tubers of Sagittaria latifolia and Sagittaria cuneata have long been an important food source to indigenous peoples of the Americas. The tubers can be detached from the ground in various ways: with the feet, a pitchfork, or a stick, and usually then float to the surface. Ripe tubers can be collected in the fall and are often found floating freely.

These tubers can be eaten raw or cooked for 15 to 20 minutes. The taste is similar to potatoes and chestnuts, and they can be prepared in the same fashions: roasting, frying, boiling, and so on. They can also be sliced and dried to prepare a flour.

Other edible parts include late summer buds and fruits.

It is vulnerable to aphids and spider mites.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Justice, William S.; Bell, C. Ritchie; Lindsey, Anne H. (2005). Wild Flowers of North Carolina (2. printing. ed.). Chapel Hill, NC: Univ. of North Carolina Press. p. 255. ISBN 0807855979. 
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Notes

Comments

Sagittaria latifolia has been divided into numerous species and varieties. It was divided into two varieties, based upon the presence of pubescence over the entire vegetative plant (C. Bogin 1955; K. Rataj 1972). We have examined numerous specimens and found that many from the southeastern United States are pubescent; we believe that this character alone is insufficient for recognition of the varieties.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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