Sagittaria latifolia

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Sagittaria latifolia
Sagittaria latifolia (flowers).jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Alismatales
Family: Alismataceae
Genus: Sagittaria
S. latifolia
Binomial name
Sagittaria latifolia
Arrowhead, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy414 kJ (99 kcal)
20.23 g
0.29 g
5.33 g
VitaminsQuantity %DV
Thiamine (B1)
0.17 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.073 mg
Niacin (B3)
1.65 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.599 mg
Vitamin B6
0.26 mg
Folate (B9)
14 μg
Vitamin C
1.1 mg
MineralsQuantity %DV
10 mg
2.57 mg
51 mg
0.36 mg
174 mg
922 mg
22 mg
0.28 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA FoodData Central

Sagittaria latifolia is a plant found in shallow wetlands and is sometimes known as broadleaf arrowhead,[2] duck-potato,[3] Indian potato, or wapato. This plant produces edible tubers that have traditionally been extensively used by the indigenous peoples of the Americas.[1]


Sagittaria latifolia is a variably sized (2 to 20 metres (6.6 to 65.6 ft) 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 metre (12 to 39 in) long, 0.15 to 0.6 metres (5.9 to 23.6 in) deep) from the mother plant. It is green and white. The plant produces rosette of leaves and an inflorescence on a long rigid scape. The leaves are extremely variable, from very thin at 1 to 2 cm to wedge shaped like those of Sagittaria cuneata. Spongy 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.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

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.


Sagittaria latifolia is native to southern Canada and most of the contiguous United States, as well as Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Cuba. It is also naturalized in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Bhutan, Australia and much of Europe (France, Spain, Italy, Romania, Germany, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and European Russia).[12] In Mexico, it is reported from Campeche, Nayarit, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Puebla, Jalisco, Durango, Tlaxcala, Estado de México, Veracruz and Michoacán.[13]


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 form 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 eat the seeds. Beavers, North American Porcupines, and muskrats eat the whole plant, tubers included. Native Americans are alleged to have opened muskrat houses to obtain their collection of roots.[14]


This plant is easily cultivated in 0.15 to 0.45 metres (5.9 to 17.7 in) of water with no or little current. The tubers are planted well spaced (no more than 12 plants per square meter) at the end of May at a depth of 5 to 7 centimetres (2.0 to 2.8 in). Fertilize with decomposed manure. They can be multiplied through seeding or division in July. The starchy tubers, produced by rhizomes beneath the wet ground surface, have long been an important food source to the indigenous peoples of the Americas, along with those of Sagittaria cuneata.[14] The tubers can be detached from the ground in various ways: with the feet, a pitchfork, or a stick, and after digging up, the tubers usually float to the surface. Ripe tubers can be collected in the fall, and are also often found then floating freely.[15]

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.[16]

Other edible parts include late summer buds and fruits. This plant is vulnerable to aphids and spider mites.


  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.
  2. ^ "Sagittaria latifolia". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  3. ^ BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  4. ^ CONABIO. 2009. Catálogo taxonómico de especies de México. 1. In Capital Nat. México. CONABIO, Mexico City.
  5. ^ Godfrey, R. K. & J. W. Wooten. 1979. Aquatic and Wetland Plants of Southeastern United States Monocotyledons 1–712. The University of Georgia Press, Athens.
  6. ^ Haynes, R. R. 1993. Alismataceae. 13: 7–20. In R. McVaugh (ed.) Flora Novo-Galiciana. The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
  7. ^ Hickman, J. C. 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California 1–1400. University of California Press, Berkeley.
  8. ^ Long, R. W. & O. K. Lakela. 1971. Flora of Tropical Florida i–xvii, 1–962. University of Miami Press, Coral Cables.
  9. ^ Moss, E. H. 1983. Flora of Alberta (ed. 2) i–xii, 1–687. University of Toronto Press, Toronto.
  10. ^ Radford, A. E., H. E. Ahles & C. R. Bell. 1968. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas i–lxi, 1–1183. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.
  11. ^ Voss, E. G. 1972. Gymnosperms and Monocots. i–xv, 1–488. In Michigan Flora. Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
  12. ^ "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew". Retrieved 2017-01-30.
  13. ^ Zepeda Gómez, Carmen, Lot, Antonio. Distribución y uso tradicional de Sagittaria macrophylla Zucc. y S. latifolia Willd. en el Estado de MéxicoCiencia Ergo Sum [online] 2005, 12
  14. ^ a b Niering, William A.; Olmstead, Nancy C. (1985) [1979]. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Knopf. p. 318. ISBN 0-394-50432-1.
  15. ^ "58518-1". IPNI. 2004-07-14. Retrieved 2007-07-21. Alismataceae Sagittaria latifolia Willd. Sp. Pl. iv. 409.
  16. ^ "Sagittaria latifolia - Willd. Duck Potato". Edible and medicinal plant database. Plants For A Future. June 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-20. Excellent when roasted, the texture is somewhat like potatoes with a taste like sweet chestnuts

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