Broadleaf arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia)

Broadleaf arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia)
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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.

Broadleaf arrowhead is a variable-sized (0.2 to 1 m) 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.

The plant has no 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.

Shubenacadie, a community located in central Nova Scotia, Canada, means “abounding in ground nuts” (i.e., broadleaf arrowhead) in the Micmac language.