Arrowhead, Bull Tongue

Sagittaria spp.

Description


There are many species of Sagittaria but all are perennial plants that have arrowhead-shaped leaves. Usually leaves have 3 points giving it the arrowhead shape but some are narrow and almost grass-like. Arrowheads can grow in shallow water or in wet areas. Leaves grow in clusters from the base and can be from less than a foot tall to over 4 feet. Leaf petioles are long, often spongy and have a milky-like fluid if crushed. Rhizomes can be extensive and some species have large tubers off the roots. Flowers are borne on separate stalks above the water in whorls of three and are usually white to light pink with three petals. Arrowheads spread rapidly by seeds and extensive rhizomes.

Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species (e.g. amphibians, reptiles, ducks, etc.). After aquatic plants die, their decomposition by bacteria and fungi provides food (called “detritus”) for many aquatic invertebrates. The tubers of arrowheads are prized foods by ducks, geese, muskrats, and nutria. Seeds are sometimes consumed by ducks.