Arrowhead (Sagittaria lancifolia, S. latifolia)
Click on terms for botanical definitions.
Also known as duck potato, arrowhead is a perennial emergent aquatic wildflower. Its flowers each have 3 white petals, yellow centers and 3 green (often red-tinged) sepals. They are born on erect, elongated stalks. The dark green leaf blades arise from long petioles at the base of the plant. S. latifolia leaves are broadly ovate, while S. lancifolia leaves are more narrowly lance-shaped.
Arrowhead typically blooms spring through fall. It occurs naturally in marshes, swamps, streams, spring runs, rivers, lake edges and roadside ditches.
Its flowers are attractive to a variety of pollinators. Its fruits are eaten by birds and other wildlife.
The genus name Sagittaria is derived from the Latin word sagitta, meaning “arrow.” It refers to the leaf shape of most species within the genus. The common name “duck potato” comes from the potato-like corms that the plant produces. Despite the name, ducks do not eat the corms! Humans, however, have been eating them for centuries. S. latifolia is known to have the largest “potatoes.”
Family: Alismataceae (Water plantain family)
Native range: Mostly throughout Florida
To see where natural populations of arrowhead have been vouchered, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Soil: Rich, saturated to inundated soils
Exposure: Full sun
Growth habit: up to 3’+ tall
Propagation: Seeds, division of rhizomes
Garden tips: Arrowhead is best suited for water gardens, retention ponds and drainage swales as it prefers to be inundated most of the time. It also does well in a wet container garden.