Tag Archives: aquatic plant

Broadleaf Arrowhead A Wetland Edible

Broadleaf Arrowhead A Wetland Edible


One of nature’s hidden treasures, the broadleaf arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia), is an interesting . This wetland plant not only captivates us with its distinctive appearance but also its edible tubers, seeds, and young shoots. Join me as we delve into the realm of this edible plant.

Common Names:

wapato - duck potatoThis versatile plant goes by several common names, each reflecting its various features and cultural significance. Among the most widely used names are “broadleaf arrowhead” and “duck-potato.” The term “arrowhead” is derived from the shape of its leaves, which resemble the tip of an arrowhead. Additionally, the name “duck-potato” is inspired by the fact that ducks and other waterfowl frequently feed on the plant’s tubers.

Description of the Plant:

The broadleaf arrowhead plant boasts a distinct appearance that makes it easy to identify and appreciate. Let’s dive into its key characteristics:
The arrowhead-shaped leaves, typically measuring 4” – 10” long, sprout on long stalks emerging from the water’s edge. The dark green leaves feature prominent veins and have a glossy texture. Their unique shape gives the plant its common name, “arrowhead.”
In the summer months, broadleaf arrowhead blooms with delicate white flowers that rise above the water’s surface on long, slender stems. These flowers exhibit three petals and a yellow center, adding a touch of elegance to the plant’s overall appearance. From August to October round clusters of seed casings develop.
Perhaps the most enticing feature of the broadleaf arrowhead lies beneath the water’s surface. The plant develops underground tubers, which are swollen, starchy structures that store nutrients and energy. These tubers can range in size from a few inches to over 5 inches in diameter. Their shape is elongated and somewhat reminiscent of a potato, hence the name “duck-potato.” These tubers serve as an excellent food source when foraging.

broadleaf arrowhead


The broadleaf arrowhead, like the cattail, is native to North America, where it can be found in a wide range of locations, including Canada, the United States, and Mexico. It thrives in both temperate and subtropical climates, allowing it to occupy a vast territory.


This versatile plant is predominantly found in wetlands, including marshes, ponds, lakes, and slow-moving streams where it can be found alongside pickerelweed. It demonstrates a remarkable adaptability to different water conditions, from shallow, still waters to those with a moderate current. The broadleaf arrowhead has even been known to establish itself in muddy or partially submerged areas, displaying its ability to colonize various habitats.

Edible Parts:

One of the most intriguing aspects of the broadleaf arrowhead is its edible nature. The plant offers several edible parts, including its tubers, young shoots, and seeds.
The tubers of the broadleaf arrowhead are the most harvested and consumed part. These underground, potato-like structures are rich in carbohydrates and offer a mild, nutty flavor. They can be harvested in late summer or early autumn when the plant’s energy is concentrated in the tubers.
Young Shoots:
The tender young shoots that emerge from the water are also edible. They can be harvested in spring and early summer and have a flavor like asparagus.
The seeds of the broadleaf arrowhead are small and can be ground into flour or used as a thickener in soups and stews. However, they are less commonly harvested compared to the tubers and shoots.

How to Harvest:

Harvesting broadleaf arrowhead requires some careful consideration to ensure sustainability and minimize ecological impact. Here are some guidelines to follow when harvesting:
To harvest tubers, gently loosen the soil around the base of the plant and carefully lift them from the mud. Select mature tubers, leave smaller ones for future plant growth and reproduction.
Young Shoots:
Harvest young shoots by cutting them close to the base of the plant. Choose shoots that are about 6 to 10 inches tall for optimal tenderness.
When collecting seeds, wait until the seed heads are mature and brown. Shake the seeds loose and separate them from the chaff by winnowing or using a sieve.

Cooking and Consumption:

Once harvested, the tubers can be cooked and enjoyed in various culinary applications. They can be boiled, roasted, mashed, or added to soups and stews, providing a nutritious and flavorful addition to your meals.
Young shoots can be eaten raw, added to salads, or steamed and boiled.
Seeds can be dried and ground into flour.

Conservation Status:

The conservation status of the broadleaf arrowhead is of concern in some regions due to habitat loss and degradation caused by human activities. Although it is not globally threatened, it is important to be mindful of the local regulations and guidelines regarding the harvesting of wild plants. It is advisable to obtain permission from landowners or consult with local conservation agencies before harvesting broadleaf arrowhead or any other wild edible plant.

Notes of Interest:

Indigenous peoples in North America historically relied on the broadleaf arrowhead as a food source and used it for medicinal purposes.

Some wildlife, such as waterfowl and beavers, also consume the broadleaf arrowhead, contributing to its ecological importance.

The Lewis and Clark expedition depended on the plant when they were in the Columbia River basin.

Know the Plant: Familiarize yourself with the characteristics of broadleaf arrowhead, paying special attention to its distinctive leaves and tubers, to ensure accurate identification.

The emergent foliage of this species provides cover for the same animals with the addition of fish and aquatic insects.

A single plant can annually yield up to 40 tubers.

Picture of plant: Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. 1992. Western wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species. West Region, Sacramento.

Pickerelweed Facts

Pickerelweed Facts Basic Information

Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) also called pickerel weed, tuckahoe, black potato, wampee or wampi is an aquaticplant native to the Americas (both North and South). It is perennial plant that can grow from either seeds or rhizomes. Pickerelweed forms large colonies along shallow shorelines, usually growing from its spreading rhizomes. The seed of the plant needs a period of cold dormancy, called stratification, for about 2 months before it will sprout a seedling. In temperate zones the growth dies back in late fall only to emerge again in Spring when weather is favorable.

Pickerelweed is important for wildlife. Deer are fond of it, as are muskrats and ducks. It also has its own bee for pollination!!


As named, pickerel weed is an aquatic plant. It is a rather large plant,
reaching up to 4 feet tall. The leaves and stems of the plant are green and somewhat waxy in appearance. They develop at the ends pickerelweed is an aquatic plantof stems and are highly variable in shape and size. Leaf shape ranges from an oval to almost lance shaped. Leaf sizes are also variable, ranging from as small as 2 inches to as much as 10 inches long and from less than an inch up-to 6 inches wide. Leaf veins run parallel in the leaf and are never “net-like”.

The small flowers are violet-blue in color and bloom in summer. They are small and cluster around a stalk-like stem (see picture). The flowers are the key to really identifying the plant.


Just like water lily, pickerelweed grows in a variety of wetlands including pond and lake margins and the edge of a slow moving streams. It prefers shallow water, a foot or so deep. Pickerelweed does not do well in salt water, so you will never find pickerelweed growing in salt marshes.


Pickerelweed has an extremely large range, its northern most
reach is eastern Canada as far north as Nova Scotia, west to Minnesota and south to Florida and Texas. It is found as far south as Argentina in South America.


The seeds are edible, when dried, roasted and ground they make a good flour for bread. They can also be eaten raw, cooked even boiled like rice or roasted like nuts. Young unfurled leaves can be eaten raw or boiled and eaten. Stalks are edible as well and are prepared just like leaves. Please make sure the water you take the plant from is clean and unpolluted.