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Sagittaria facts for kids

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Illustration Sagittaria sagittifolia0.jpg
S. sagittifolia
1885 illustration
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Monocots
Order: Alismatales
Family: Alismataceae
Genus: Sagittaria
Type species
Sagittaria sagittifolia
  • Sagitta Guett.
  • Diphorea Raf.
  • Drepachenia Raf.
  • Lophiocarpus (Kunth) Miq., illegitimate
  • Lophotocarpus T.Durand
  • Hydrolirion H.Lév.

Sagittaria is a genus of about 30 species of aquatic plants whose members go by a variety of common names, including arrowhead, duck potato, katniss, Omodaka (沢瀉 in Japanese), swamp potato, tule potato, and wapato (or wapatoo). Most are native to South, Central, and North America, but there are also some from Europe, Africa, and Asia.


Sagittaria plant stock (the perennial rhizome) is a horizontal creeper (stoloniferous) and obliquely obovate, the margins winged, with apical or ventral beak; in other words, they are a small, dry, one-seeded fruit that do not open to release the seed, set on a slant, narrower at the base, with winged edges, and having a "beaked" aperture (one side longer than the other) for sprouting, set above or below the fruit body.

One of the names for this plant is derived from the edible underwater tuber that the plant produces. In late fall or early spring, disturbing the aquatic mud in which the plant grows will cause its small tubers to float to the surface where they can be harvested and then boiled.


Many species have edible roots, prized for millennia as a reliable source of starch and carbohydrates, even during the winter. Roots are eaten cooked, and are harvested by hand or by treading with one's feet in the mud. They are easy to propagate by replanting the roots.


Wapato bulb
Arrowhead Crisps
Crisps (chips) made from tuber

Accepted species:

  1. Sagittaria aginashii Makino – Japan, Korea, Primorye
  2. Sagittaria ambigua J.G.Sm. – Missouri Arrowhead – from Oklahoma to Indiana
  3. Sagittaria australis (J.G.Sm.) Small – Appalachian Arrowhead – southeastern US from Louisiana to Florida and as far north as Iowa and New Jersey
  4. Sagittaria brevirostra Mack. & Bush – Shortbeak Arrowhead – central US (Great Plains, Mississippi and Ohio Valleys, Great Lakes); also Virginia and Saskatchewan; naturalized in California
  5. Sagittaria chapmanii (J.G.Sm.) C.Mohr – from Texas to the Carolinas
  6. Sagittaria cristata Engelm – Crystal arrowhead – Great Lakes region
  7. Sagittaria cuneata E.P.Sheld. – Wapato, Northern Arrowhead, Swamp Potato – most of Canada including Yukon and Northwest Territories; Alaska; western and northeastern US
  8. Sagittaria demersa J.G.Sm. – Chihuahuan arrowhead – New Mexico, northeastern Mexico
  9. Sagittaria engelmanniana J.G.Sm. – Engelmann's arrowhead – eastern US from Mississippi to Vermont
  10. Sagittaria fasciculata E.O.Beal – Bunched Arrowhead – North and South Carolina
  11. Sagittaria filiformis J.G.Sm. – Threadleaf Arrowhead – eastern US from Alabama to Maine
  12. Sagittaria graminea Michx. – Grassy Arrowhead, Grass-leaved Arrowhead – Cuba; much of eastern and central US; eastern Canada; naturalized in Washington State and in Vietnam
  13. Sagittaria guayanensis Kunth – Guyanese Arrowhead – widespread across Latin America, the West Indies, China, India, Southeast Asia; introduced into Louisiana
  14. Sagittaria intermedia Micheli in Candolle & Candolle – Greater Antilles, Colombia, southern Mexico
  15. Sagittaria isoetiformis J.G.Sm. – Quillwort Arrowhead – Cuba, from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Carolinas
  16. Sagittaria kurziana Glück – Springtape or Strap-leaf Sagittaria – Florida; naturalized in Mariana Islands
  17. Sagittaria lancifolia L. – Bulltongue Arrowhead – southeastern US from Texas to Delaware; West Indies; Latin America from southern Mexico to Brazil
  18. Sagittaria latifolia Willd. – Duck-potato, Broad-leaved Arrowhead, Wapato – widespread across most of North America, the West Indies and northern South America; naturalized in Hawaii, the western Himalayas and parts of Europe
  19. Sagittaria lichuanensis J.K.Chen, X.Z.Sun & H.Q.Wang – southern China
  20. Sagittaria longiloba Engelm. ex J.G. Sm. – Longbarb Arrowhead – southern Great Plains, Arizona, New Mexico, California, Mexico, Nicaragua, Venezuela
  21. Sagittaria × lunata C.D.Preston & Uotila – Sweden, Finland, northern Russia (S. natans × S. sagittifolia)
  22. Sagittaria macrocarpa J.G.Sm. – Large-fruited Arrowhead – North and South Carolina
  23. Sagittaria macrophylla Zucc. – Papa de agua – Mexico
  24. Sagittaria montevidensis Cham. & Schltdl. – California Arrowhead – widespread across much of US, Mexico and South America
  25. Sagittaria natans Pall. – widespread across northern Europe and Asia from Sweden to Kamchatka; Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Japan, Korea
  26. Sagittaria papillosa Buchenau – Nipplebract Arrowhead – Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma
  27. Sagittaria planitiana G.Agostini – Brazil, Venezuela
  28. Sagittaria platyphylla (Engelm.) J.G.Sm. – Delta Arrowhead, Delta Duck-potato – south-central US with scattered populations in southeast, the Ohio Valley and Washington State; also Mexico and Panama; naturalized in South Australia, Italy, Java, Caucasus
  29. Sagittaria potamogetifolia Merr. – southern China
  30. Sagittaria pygmaea Miq. – Pygmy arrowhead – China, Japan, Korea, Himalayas, Thailand, Vietnam
  31. Sagittaria rhombifolia Cham. – Costa Rica; widespread across much of South America
  32. Sagittaria rigida Pursh. – Canadian Arrowhead – Canada from Quebec to Saskatchewan; common in northeastern and north-central US from Arkansas and Nebraska east to Virginia and New England; scattered populations in California, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington State; naturalised in Great Britain
  33. Sagittaria sagittifolia L. – Arrowhead – widespread across most of Europe; Siberia, Caucasus, Turkey
  34. Sagittaria sanfordii Greene – Valley Arrowhead – endemic to California
  35. Sagittaria secundifolia Kral – Little River Arrowhead – Georgia and Alabama
  36. Sagittaria sprucei Micheli in Candolle & Candolle – Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, northern Brazil
  37. Sagittaria subulata L. Buchenau – Narrow-leaved Arrowhead – eastern US from Louisiana to Massachusetts; naturalized in Great Britain, Azores and Java
  38. Sagittaria tengtsungensis H.Li – Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Yunnan
  39. Sagittaria teres S.Watson – Slender Arrowhead – northeastern US
  40. Sagittaria trifolia L. – Threeleaf Arrowhead – widespread across much of Asia including Siberia, China, Japan, India, Iran, Indonesia, Philippines, etc.; also Ukraine and European Russia; naturalized in Fiji and Polynesia

Formerly placed here

  • Echinodorus palaefolius (Nees & Mart.) J.F.Macbr. (as S. palaefolia Nees & Mart.)
  • Limnophyton obtusifolium (L.) Miq. (as S. obtusifolia L.)
  • Wiesneria triandra (Dalzell) Micheli (as S. triandra Dalzell)
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Sagittaria Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.