Arumleaf Arrowhead (Cuneata)

The Arumleaf Arrowhead (Cuneata) is generally described as a perennial forb/herb. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring . The Arumleaf Arrowhead (Cuneata) has green foliage and inconspicuous yellow flowers, with a moderate amount of conspicuous fruits or seeds. The greatest bloom is usually observed in the indeterminate, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until summer. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Arumleaf Arrowhead (Cuneata) has a moderate life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Arumleaf Arrowhead (Cuneata) will reach up to 2.6 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The Arumleaf Arrowhead (Cuneata) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by seed. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -33°F. has none tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Ethnobotanic: Sagittaria is an aquatic plant with tuberous roots that can be eaten like potatoes. 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 widely traded from harvesting centers to neighboring areas. On the Lower Columbia in Chinook Territory, Katzie families owned large patches of the wapato plants. Family groups camped beside their harvesting sites for a month or more.

Indian women collected wapato 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 cooking, 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.

Medicinally, the Maidu of California used an infusion of arrowhead roots to clean and treat wounds. The Navaho 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 bath feverish babies, with one sip given orally. The Iroquois used wapato for rheumatism, a dermatological aid, a laxative, and as a ceremonial blessing when they began planting corn.

Wildlife: The small, flattish seeds of arrowheads are eaten by ducks, and the tubers are valuable to many species of 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 (Martin 1951).

General Characteristics

General: Arrowhead Family (Alismataceae). Sagittaria cuneata is an aquatic plant growing in swampy ground or standing water in ponds, lakes, stream edges, and ditches (Hickman 1993). Wapato have white or bluish tubers, which are edible. The leaves are sagittate, with 5-15 cm long erect or floating leaf blades; the lower lobes of the emergent leaf blades are less than the terminal lobe. The inflorescence is simple or branching, often with the lower flowers pistillate and the upper ones staminate. The flowers are white, with three white petals and 3 sepals. Stamens are numerous and bright yellow. The pistils are numerous, spirally arranged on the receptacle. The fruit is a greenish colored achene.

Required Growing Conditions

For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site. Sagittaria species are obligate wetland plants found in marshes and wetlands throughout temperate North America. Sagittaria cuneata is transcontinental, extending from north central Alaska to Labrador, extending south to California and northern Texas. In California, Sagittaria cuneata ranges from middle to high elevations < 2500 m. Sagittaria species grow in ponds, slow streams, ditches and freshwater wetlands.

Cultivation and Care

Sagittaria species may be planted from bare root stock, by transplanting the tubers, and by seeding directly into wetland soil. Live plant transplants or transplanting tubers are preferred revegetation methods where there is moving water. It takes two years for seed to germinate; planting bare root stock or tubers gives faster revegetation results.

Live Plant Collections: No more than 1/4 of the plants in an area should be collected. A depth of 15 cm (6 in) is sufficiently deep for digging plugs. This will leave enough plants and rhizomes to grow back during the growing season.

Wild plants should be collected from the time leaves emerge in spring until first frost. Plants can be pulled up easily from wet soil. When collecting wild plants, rinse roots gently. Leaves and stems can be clipped from 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 inches); this allows the plant to allocate more energy into root production. The roots should always remain moist or in water until planted. Plants should be transported and stored in a cool location prior to planting. Water depth should be 0 to 6 and the soils should be wet.

Sagittaria grows prolifically around ponds or wetlands in shallow water. Plug spacing of 25-30 cm will fill in within one growing season. Soil should be kept saturated, with approximately 1 cm of water over the surface of the soil after planting. If water is low in nutrients (oligotrophic), fertilization will speed biomass production and revegetation. Many surface waters are already rich in nutrients (eutrophic), and fertilization is not necessary.

Transplanting tubers: Transplant success may be greater with the tubers than with bare root stock. The little underground potatoes can be separated from the parent plants with a rake, hoe, or shovel. In unconsolidated soils, the tubers can be pulled up by hand by searching around the roots of the plant.

After collecting, the Sagittaria tubers should be kept moist and cool, and stored in peat moss. Wapato tubers are then planted in shallow water, in the same conditions as described above for the whole plants. Tubers should be collected and planted when plants are dormant, in the fall, winter and early spring.

Seeds: Seeds of Sagittaria species take two years to germinate, because they have a double dormancy requiring cold then warm then cold temperatures. Temperature has a multiple role in the regulation of timing of germination. Dormant seeds become nondormant only at specific temperatures, non-dormant seeds have specific temperature requirements for germination, and nondormant seeds of some species are induced into dormancy by certain temperatures. Once Sagittaria seeds germinate, they have fairly high viability.

Procedures for growing Sagittaria seeds in the greenhouse have not been developed at this time; however, Sagittaria seeds can be planted directly in wetlands or ponds. Prepare the area by creating a washboard in shallow water, at mudflat consistency. Seeds should then be scattered on the surface of the soil, as the seeds need sunlight to germinate well. Light and temperature in natural conditions will promote seed germination, and in two years Sagittaria plants will emerge.

General Upkeep and Control

Hydrology is the most important factor in determining wetland type revegetation success, and wetland function and value. Changes in water levels influence species composition, structure, and distribution of plant communities. Water management is absolutely critical during plant establishment, and remains crucial through the life of the wetland for proper community management. Sagittaria species require moist soils to standing water for successful revegetation.

Muskrats have evolved with wetland ecosystems and form a valuable component of healthy functioning wetland communities. Muskrat eat-outs increase wetland diversity by opening up the dense tule and cattail stands, 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. Caches of Sagittaria tubers stored by muskrat and beaver were often sought by Indian people.

We have no record of specific traditional resource management techniques other than anecdotal information of the use of fire to keep dense tule marshes open, which provided an opportunity for colonization and spread of Sagittaria species. The harvest of arrowhead was usually made in late summer as the stems and leaves were dying (and usually when the water table was lower) (Balls 1962).

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Forb/herb
Growth Period Spring
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Moderate
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Indeterminate
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Bunch
Drought Tolerance None
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 2.6
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Yellow
Flower Conspicuousness Yes
Fruit/Seed Abundance Medium
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Summer
Seed Spread Rate Moderate
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Seed
Moisture Requirements Medium
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature -33
Soil Depth for Roots 14
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate Slow
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 4.7–8.6 pH
Precipitation Range 14–14 inches/yr
Planting Density 0–0 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 14
Minimum Frost-Free Days 95 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance High
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability High
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA