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Sagittaria latifolia facts for kids

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Sagittaria latifolia
Sagittaria latifolia (flowers).jpg
Scientific classification
Arrowhead, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 414 kJ (99 kcal)
20.23 g
0.29 g
5.33 g
Vitamins Quantity
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
Minerals Quantity
10 mg
2.57 mg
51 mg
0.36 mg
174 mg
922 mg
22 mg
0.28 mg

Link to USDA Database entry
  • Units
  • μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams
  • IU = International units
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, duck-potato, Indian potato, or wapato. This plant produces edible tubers that have traditionally been extensively used by the indigenous peoples of the Americas.


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.

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). In Mexico, it is reported from Campeche, Nayarit, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Puebla, Jalisco, Durango, Tlaxcala, Estado de México, Veracruz and Michoacán.


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.


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. 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.

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. This plant is vulnerable to aphids and spider mites.

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