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Broadleaf Arrowhead

Scientific Name:
Sagittaria latifolia
Family:
Native Name(s):
Description:

Plant

Sagittaria latifolia is a stout perennial herb that produces white to blue, oblong and edible tubers. Leaves are erect with sagittate blades up to 30 cm long. Staminate flowers have glaborous filaments and pistillate flowers have ascending pedicels and reflexed sepals. Fruits are 1 to 2 mm long and beaked. This species blooms from July to August.

Identification Tips

This species can be identified by the size of its fruits (<1 mm) that are larger than other species in Sagittaria.

Starch Granules

Storage starch granules are most often found in large aggregates in amyloplasts (sheets), bounded by cell walls and are rarely found solitary. Spherical to ovoid starch granules are up to 10 microns in length and 5 to 6 microns on average. Hilum is slightly eccentric, cross is asymetrical with curved or bent arms.

Habitat:

Sagittaria latifolia grows at elevations below 1500 m near ponds and slow streams.

Distribution:

This species grows all across North America.

Ethnography:

Sagittaria latifolia was used as food by the Pit River and Klamath groups.

As food

Pit River: "[In regards to the Hammawi] From April to June the gathering of roots was the important task…From the drying depressions on the mesa above Tulukupi, from the borders of Madeline Plains, came the paha or epos.  This was dried and stored for winter.  From the swamps came the "tule potato," knocked from the bottom with long sticks when the ice still remained; also the camass root and a variety of tulips, not to mention the tule itself.  Then from the higher lands came the berries: salmon berries, bear berries, juniper berries; with the wild plum and wild buckwheat.  All these could be dried, ground, and stored away for the winter." (Kniffen 1928:305)

Klamath: "Chö-ä'.- Arrowhead or wappatoo, a marsh plant, with large tender leaves shaped like arrowheads, and white flowers, common in permanently muddy soil everywhere.  In autumn the slender rootstocks develop at their ends white tubers filled with starch and very nutritious.  The Chinook name for the plant, wappatoo, which is widely used in the Northwest for this and another species, Sagittaria latifolia Willd., is a good popular designation...From the fact that the tubers bear a general resemblance to those of the cultivated potato the name chö-ä' was at once applied to that plant when it first became known to the Klamaths.  The name Chewaucan, applied to a great marsh in the Oregon plains east of the Klamath Reservation, was derived from this word, with the addition of the suffix can, a place, the whole meaning the place where the arrowhead grows.  Frémont, passing across Chewaucan Marsh, December 19, 1843, wrote on page 208 of his report: "Large patches of ground have been torn up by the squaws in digging for roots, as if a farmer had been preparing the land for grain."" (Coville 1897:90-91)

Distribution Map: