broad-leaved arrowhead

(Sagittaria latifolia)

Conservation Status
broad-leaved arrowhead
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

OBL - Obligate wetland


OBL - Obligate wetland

  Northcentral & Northeast

OBL - Obligate wetland


Broad-leaved arrowhead is an erect, perennial, emergent, aquatic forb that rises on a rosette of leaves and a single flowering stem from a tuft of coarse roots. It is found in water up to 5 deep and emerges above the water up to 18. The roots are tipped with starchy tubers (corms). The plant spreads by long, creeping, above-ground, horizontal stems (stolons), and it often forms dense colonies.

The leaves emerge from the water on long stalks (petioles). The petioles are stout, erect to ascending, and about as long as the water is deep. They are triangular in cross section for most of their length, round near the base. They are somewhat inflated and sheath the stem at the base.

The leaf blades normally held above the water (emersed). In the rare occurrences when the leaves are submerged the blades are absent or are very long and narrow (linear). When emersed, the leaf blades are arrow-shaped, 2 to 20 long, and ¾ to 3¾ wide, though they are usually no more than 12 long.The blade width is variable—it may be long and very narrow, with almost linear lobes, or wide with broadly elliptic or egg-shaped lobes. The lobes at the base of the blade normally point downward, rarely outward, and are half as long to as long as the rest of the blade. The tip of the blade is pointed and the tips of the lobes, when present, are sharply pointed. There is a prominent primary vein (midrib) extending from the base of the blade to the tip, and, when lobes are present, form the base of the blade to the tip of each lobe. There are also several slightly less prominent secondary veins arching from the base of the midrib to the tip of the blade and each lobe. These main veins are connected by numerous faint parallel veins. The upper and lower leaf surfaces are hairless or sparsely hairy. The margins are untoothed.

The inflorescence is usually an unbranched array (raceme), rarely a branched array (panicle), of 3 to 9 whorls of mostly 3 flowers per whorl. The flowering stalk (peduncle) is slender, unbent, and erect. It rises 4 to 24 above the surface of the water, often rising above the leaves. Separate male and female flowers occur on the same plant. Each flower is on an ascending, unthickened, to 2 long stalk (pedicel). The flowers in the upper whorls are male and are on short pedicels The flowers in the lower 1 to 5 whorls are female and are on longer, ascending pedicels. At the base of each pedicel there is a single, leaf-like appendage (bract). The bract is boat-shaped and to ½ long. It is broadest at the base and rounded or narrowly pointed at the tip. It is fused at the base for at least ¼ of its length with the other bract(s) at the base of the whorl of flowers.

Each flower is showy and up to 1½ in diameter. There are 3 sepals and 3 petals attached to the base of a globe-shaped receptacle. The sepals are pale green, egg-shaped, and 3 16to 7 16 long. They spread outward or are bent backward in flower and are always bent backward in fruit. The petals are white, unlobed, and to ¾ long. On the male flower there are 20 to 40 stamens with yellow anthers. The filaments are hairless, are longer than the anthers, and are not swollen at the base. On female flowers the receptacle is covered with 1,500 or more pistils. The pistils are arranged in a spiral pattern. The female flower does not have a ring of sterile stamens.

The fruiting head is a globe-shaped, to in diameter cluster of seed cases (achenes). The achene is inversely lance-shaped and 1 16 to long. It is ribbed but not winged. At the tip of the achene there is a conspicuous, 1 32to 116 long, prolonged tip (beak) that is at right angles to the body of the fruit.




Up to 18 above water


Flower Color




Similar Species


arumleaf arrowhead (Sagittaria cuneata) has submerged, floating, and emersed leaves. The floating leaves are arrowhead-shaped and are much smaller than the emersed leaves, no more than 3½ long. The lobes at the base of the blade are much shorter than the rest of the blade .The beak on the fruit is ascending to erect, not perpendicular, and is no more than 164 long.

Sessile-fruited arrowhead (Sagittaria rigida) inflorescence is abruptly bent at the lowest whorl of flowers.

Hooded arrowhead (Sagittaria montevidensis ssp. calycina) has bisexual and sometimes also male flowers but no female flowers. The bisexual flowers have a ring of sterile stamens around the receptacle. The sepals are appressed or ascending in fruit.


Shallow water. Margins of lakes and ponds, sloughs, marshes, fens, ditches, slow streams. Full or partial sun.




July to August


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28, 29, 30.








Extremely frequent and widespread

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Liliopsida (monocots)  
  Subclass Alismatidae  


Alismatales (water-plantains, seagrass, and allies)  


Alismataceae (water plantain)  


Sagittaria (arrowheads)  


Sagittaria (common arrowheads)  



Sagittaria engelmanniana ssp. longirostra

Sagittaria esculenta

Sagittaria latifolia var. latifolia

Sagittaria latifolia var. obtusa

Sagittaria latifolia var. pubescens

Sagittaria longirostra

Sagittaria obtusa

Sagittaria ornithorhyncha

Sagittaria planipes

Sagittaria pubescens

Sagittaria variabilis var. obtusa

Sagittaria viscosa


Common Names


broadleaf arrowhead

broad-leaved arrowhead

common arrowhead


















A dry, one-chambered, single-seeded fruit, formed from a single carpel, with the seed attached to the membranous outer layer (wall) only by the seed stalk; the wall, formed entirely from the wall of the superior ovary, does not split open at maturity, but relies on decay or predation to release the contents.



A comparatively short and stout, narrow or prolonged tip on a thickened organ, as on some fruits and seeds.



Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.



A short, solid, vertical, thickened, underground stem that serves as a storage organ.



Rooted in water but with most of the growth held above the surface of the water.



On plants: The thread-like stalk of a stamen which supports the anther. On Lepidoptera: One of a pair of long, thin, fleshy extensions extending from the thorax, and sometimes also from the abdomen, of a caterpillar.



Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.



A pyramidal inflorescence with a main stem and branches. Flowers on the lower, longer branches mature earlier than those on the shorter, upper ones.



On plants: the stalk of a single flower in a cluster of flowers. On insects: the second segment of the antennae. On Hymenoptera and Araneae: the narrow stalk connecting the thorax to the abdomen: the preferred term is petiole.



In angiosperms, the stalk of a single flower or a flower cluster; in club mosses, the stalk of a strobilus or a group of strobili.



On plants: The stalk of a leaf blade or a compound leaf that attaches it to the stem. On ants and wasps: The constricted first one or two segments of the rear part of the body.



An unbranched, elongated inflorescence with stalked flowers. The flowers mature from the bottom up.



The thickened, upper part of a flower stalk to which flowers or flower parts are attached. In composite flowers, the part on which the flowers are borne. In accessory fruits the receptacle gives rise to the edible part of the fruit.



An above-ground, creeping stem that grows along the ground and produces roots and sometimes new plants at its nodes. A runner.

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    broad-leaved arrowhead   broad-leaved arrowhead  

Green Lake, East Gull Lake, MN

    broad-leaved arrowhead   broad-leaved arrowhead  


    broad-leaved arrowhead   broad-leaved arrowhead  
    broad-leaved arrowhead      


    broad-leaved arrowhead      

Male Flowers

    broad-leaved arrowhead      

Female Flowers

    broad-leaved arrowhead   broad-leaved arrowhead  


    broad-leaved arrowhead   broad-leaved arrowhead  
    broad-leaved arrowhead   broad-leaved arrowhead  
    broad-leaved arrowhead      



  Sagittaria latifolia (Common Arrowhead)
Allen Chartier
  Sagittaria latifolia (Common Arrowhead)  



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Other Videos
  common arrowhead / broadleaf arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia)

Uploaded on May 19, 2010

Aquatic and Invasive Plant Identification Series by the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants ( ) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Invasive Plant Management Section.

For more information about common arrowhead / broadleaf arrowhead, go to

Video editor/videographer - Phil Chiocchio

  Broadleaf Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia)

Published on Aug 22, 2012

Also called duck potato, Indian potato, or wapato. This plant produces edible tubers that were extensively used by the Indigenous peoples of the Americas.






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