Midwestern Arrowhead (Duck Potato; Wapato)

Midwestern Arrowhead (Male Flowers)

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Midwestern Arrowhead Plants

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Sagittaria brevirostra
Alismataceae (arrowheads, water plantains)

Aquatic perennial herb growing on muddy banks. Flowers erect, in mostly unbranched whorls of 3 (sometimes 2) on the flowering stalk. The flowers on the lowest 1-6 whorls are female, not showy, with many pistils, and bear green, rounded, burlike clusters of fruits, which turn brown in the fall. Flowers higher on the stalks are male, showy, with 3 white petals and many yellow stamens. Blooms June–September. Leaves basal. Leaf blades arrowhead-shaped or halberd-shaped, on long petioles that are often inflated, angled, or ribbed.

Similar species: Seven species of arrowheads are recorded for Missouri. This species can be distinguished by its large leaf blades, and the bracts at the base of each whorl of flowers, which are ¾–2½ inches long, linear to lanceolate, with a narrowly acute tip. Also, the female flowers are on stalks ½–1½ inches long.

Leaf length (including the stem): 4 to 60 inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
An emergent aquatic growing along muddy margins of ponds, ditches, sloughs, sluggish streams, and similar habitats. Sometimes flowers in dried mud.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Scattered nearly statewide.
Human connections: 
The starchy corms (potato-like “tubers”) of some arrowhead species have been baked, roasted, boiled, and even candied. Native Americans valued them for food, drying them to eat in winter. Some species are commercially important as aquarium plants or aquatic ornamentals.
Ecosystem connections: 
Duck potatoes provide important food for wildlife. Ducks and geese feast on the submerged corms and the seeds. Butterflies, bees, wasps, beetles, and other insects cross-pollinate the flowers as they take nectar and pollen. Many insects and some mammals, such as muskrat, eat the plants.
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