Sagittaria lancifolia (Bulltongue Arrowhead, Duck Potato)

Growing in wet or muddy habits, these plants can grow in up to 30cm of freshwater. The rhizomes have long been used as a carbohydrate source and can be easily propagated. White flowers are borne in whorls of 3 on tall racemes in summer.

Sagittaria lancifolia (Bulltongue Arrowhead, Duck Potato) [sometimes S. latifolia]
Family: Alismataceae
Subspecies: subsp. lancifolia, subsp. media
Native: southeastern United States, Texas to Florida
Hardiness Zones: 8-11 (sources provide variable information, typically reliable source (MoBot) indicates zone 5 with protection)
Height: to 1.3m (rarely 2m)
Diameter: rhizomes to 0.6m long and 10cm wide
Root System: fibrous emerging from tuber-like rhizome, float if removed from soil-mud medium
Growth Rate: moderate-fast
Age: perennial forb/herb
Deciduous: yes
Monoecious/dioecious: monoecious with imperfect flowers
Monocot/dicot: monocot

Tolerates: wet soil, flooding soil
Problems (major): drying out is typically fatal
Problems (minor): low saltwater tolerance, requires high amounts of sun for blooming
Poisonous: no, rhizome safely edible
Soil requirements: naturalize in sandy, loamy, and muddy soils, must be consistenly wet or submerged
Air requirements: good soil aeration not vital
Watering requirement: must be in consistently wet habits
Sun requirement: full sun
Leaves: to 1m, sagittate-linear-ovate-elliptic lamina to 25cm (above water), petioles terete to 58cm, lanceolate or bladeless if submerged entirely, apex acuminte, base cuneate, venation parallel, glabrous
Flower structure: to 3cm in diameter, 3 sepals recurving and green, 3 petals white, stamens yellow and 6+ (in staminate flowers), pistils numerous and is bushy green clusters (for pistillate flowers), filaments longer than anhers, in 6-12 whorls of 3 flowers on racemes atop leafless scapes
Flowering frequency: June-August
Fruit type: achenes oblanceolate-obovoid, winged, to 2.5mm, seeds may take up to 2 years for germination
Fruit dispersal: waterfowl, water, (possibly) wind
Subterranean storage organ: elliptical rhizome
Notable characteristics:
The flowers can be quite showy when numerous. The edible rhizomes float to the water’s surface if removed from their muddy soil substrate.

Some use this as a food source rich in carbohydrates; these are more commonly ornamental obligate wetland plants.

Sources used:

All of the images provided were taken by me. They may be used for educational/informational purposes only, provided that this article/online journal is appropriately cited first.


Female flower, sitmgatic surface designed to maximize capture pollenSagittaria_lancifolia
Foliage emerging from rhizome near HydroctyleSagittaria_lancifolia__ Male (staminate) flowers


1 Comment

Filed under Plant Analysis

One response to “Sagittaria lancifolia (Bulltongue Arrowhead, Duck Potato)

  1. Clifford Davis

    Beautiful shots! Thanks for sharing!

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