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Sagittaria latifolia (duck potato) Sagittaria latifolia (duck potato)
Image courtesy of ©2019 Kind Earth Growers
Species Distribution Map
Map Color Key © 2013 BONAP

Sagittaria latifolia

duck potato or broadleaf arrowhead

Sagittaria latifolia, duck potato, is a vigorous aquatic perennial that typically grows 2-4’ tall. Known for its arrowhead-shaped leaves, Sagittaria latifolia commonly grows submerged in shallow water or out of water on wet muddy banks, sloughs, swamps, marshes and margins of streams and ponds. Sagittaria latifolia is easy to naturalize and will colonize by spreading rhizomes as well as self seed.  Duck Potato is a valuable food source for waterfowl. - Kind Earth Growers

Erosion control
Root is a food source for wildlife
Wetland Indicator Status: OBL

Duck potato is a native emergent aquatic perennial with arrow-shaped leaves and thick tuberous roots. It forms dense colonies and spreads by rhizome. 

SIZE
Sagittaria latifolia LP50 - 50 per flat Availability
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Height

2-4 ft

Spread

1-3 ft

Bloom Color

White

USDA Hardiness Zone 3-11

duck potato Interesting Notes

Ethnobotanic: Sagittaria is an aquatic plant with tuberous roots that can be eaten like potatoes. Lewis and Clark found it at the mouth of the Willamette and considered it equal to the potato, and valuable for trade. Indian women collected it in shallow water from a canoe, or waded into ponds or marshes in the late summer and loosened the roots with their toes. The roots would rise to the top of the water where they were gathered and tossed into floating baskets. Today, the tubers are harvested with a hoe, pitchfork, or rake. Tubers are baked in fire embers, boiled, or roasted in the ashes. Tubers are skinned and eaten whole or mashed. After roasting, some tubers were dried and stored for winter use. The Chippewa gathered the "Indian potatoes" in the fall, strung them, and hung them overhead in the wigwam to dry. Later they were boiled for use. The tubers of Sagittaria species were eaten by many different indigenous groups in Canada, as well as many groups of Washington and Oregon (Kuhnlein and Turner 1991). The tubers were also widely traded from harvesting centers to neighboring areas. The tubers were also a major item of commerce on the Lower Columbia in Chinook Territory. Katzie families owned large patches of the plant and clearing the patches claimed ownership. Family groups would camp beside their claimed harvesting sites for a month or more.


A species of Sagittaria grows in China, and is sold in the markets of China and Japan as food, the corms being full of starch. Sagittaria latifolia is extensively cultivated in the San Francisco Bay area in California to supply the Chinese markets, and the tubers are commonly to be found on sale. The Chinese, on coming to California, used it for food and may have cultivated it somewhat. In so doing, they are believed to have extended its range into the southern part of the state (Mason 1957). Medicinally, the Maidu of California used an infusion of arrowhead roots to clean and treat wounds. The Navajo use these plants for headaches. The Ojibwa and the Chippewa used Sagittaria species as a remedy for indigestion. The Cherokee used an infusion of leaves to bathe feverish babies, with one sip given orally. The Iroquois used it for rheumatism, a dermatological aid, and a laxative. The Iroquois used it as a ceremonial blessing when they began planting corn.


Wildlife: Tubers are planted as an wildlife food. Ducks eat the small, flat seeds of arrowheads, but the tubers are the most valuable to wildlife. Muskrat and porcupine are known to eat the tubers. Swans, geese, wood ducks, blue-winged teal, lesser and greater scaup, ruddy duck, ring necked duck, pintail, mallard, mottled duck, gadwall, canvasback, black duck and king rail are known to eat arrowhead seeds and tubers. For wildlife use, the tubers of Sagittaria latifolia are often too large and too deeply buried to be useful to ducks (Martin 1951).


Muskrats have evolved with wetland ecosystems and form a valuable component of healthy functioning wetland communities. Muskrats use emergent wetland vegetation such as Sagittaria species for food. Muskrat grazed areas increase wetland diversity by opening up the dense stands of Typha and Schoenoplectus (Scirpus) species, and providing opportunities for aquatic vegetation such as Sagittaria to become established in the open water. Muskrat huts provide a substrate for shrubs and other plant species. Indian people often sought caches of Sagittaria tubers stored by muskrat and beaver. - USDA

Sagittaria latifolia Growing and Maintenance Tips

Thrives in freshwater 6-12" deep in full sun with silty and unconsolidated rich, organic soils. Can be found along still water such as in marshes, swamps, forested seeps, ditches, and in the shallows of streams, lakes and ponds. 


Excellent for ponds, water gardens, restoration projects and wildlife conservation areas. 

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Full Sun
Full Sun
Part Sun
Part Sun
Summer
Summer
Moist
Moist
Wetlands
Wetlands

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Wet
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
Propagation Type
Open pollinated
Attributes
Erosion Control
Moist Sun
Native to North America