Sagittaria sagittifolia

Name and classification

Sagittaria sagittifolia L.
Family Alismataceae

Common names

arrowhead, giant arrowhead

Disseminule

fruit

Description

Fruiting heads with multiple achenes. Achenes winged, obovate to orbicular, beaked, 2.5–5.3 mm long, 1.5–3.5 mm wide, 0.1–0.5 mm thick. Dorsal wing twice as wide as ventral wing, beak apical, erect, 0.3–0.8 mm long. Surface light to dark brown or reddish-brown, rough, sticky, 0–3 resin ducts on each face. Embryo curved-linear, its form visible on surface under testa; endosperm absent.

Identification considerations

Helpful distinguishing characters among Sagittaria are relative widths of the wings, presence or absence of wing on faces, and position of beak.

Similar species

Sagittaria montevidensis Cham. & Schltdl. (non-FNW)

Distribution

widespread in Europe, temperate, southern and Southeast Asia, Australia, Pacific islands; in the Western hemisphere: Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, Hawaii

native in much of Europe, Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, and Russia

Habitat

subarctic to tropical, in quiet, shallow, standing waters, including swamps, reservoirs, rice paddies, river banks, bays

General information

Sagittaria sagittifolia is a perennial, stoloniferous, aquatic or wetland deep-rooted herb, 30–100 cm tall. It is a weed in irrigation systems and drains and in crops such as rice in 50 countries. The plant is highly adaptable in morphology and physiology to changes in the environment. Reproduction is by achenes and vegetatively by whole, immature plants and underground tubers. Seeds float easily and can be carried long distances. In Asia and Hawaii, the tubers are cultivated and eaten for their high starch and protein content.

achenes

achenes

achenes

achenes

A, fruit; B, longitudinal section of fruit showing embryo; C, transection of fruit; drawing by Lynda E. Chandler

A, fruit; B, longitudinal section of fruit showing embryo; C, transection of fruit; drawing by Lynda E. Chandler