Sagittaria cuneata Sheldon

northern arrowhead

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Northern arrowhead produces three types of leaves, depending on water depth. Strap-shaped phyllodia are found on deep-water plants, floating leaf blades on moderate to deep-water plants, and sagittate leaf blades on recurved petioles on emersed plants. The rhizomes, young leaves, young shoots and young inflorescences are all edible, but it is the corms that are most widely valued for food. The Ojibwa prepared them boiled fresh, dried, or candied them with maple sugar.

Habitat

Floodplain (river or stream floodplains), lacustrine (in lakes or ponds), riverine (in rivers or streams), shores of rivers or lakes, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)

Characteristics

Habitat
  • aquatic
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
Leaf position
  • some of the leaves are floating at the surface of the water
  • the leaves are all submerged underwater
Leaf arrangement
basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
Leaf blade length
25–450 mm
Petal or sepal number
there are three petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
Petal color
white
Specific leaf type
the leaf is not divided, rather the blade is made up of one segment
Floating leaf shape
  • the leaf blade is cordate (heart-shaped with backward-facing rounded lobes)
  • the leaf blade is linear (very narrow with more or less parallel sides)
  • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
  • the leaf blade is sagittate (arrow-shaped with backward-facing pointed lobes)
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is dry but does not split open when ripe
Underwater leaf length
Up to 450 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Turion length
    0 mm
  • Flowers
    Anther color
    there is a noticeable pink, reddish or purplish tint to the anthers
    Carpels fused
    the carpel is solitary or (if 2 or more) the carpels are not fused to one another
    Flower lower lip length
    0 mm
    Flower number
    6–30
    Flower position
    the flowers are above the surface of the water
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Inflorescence length
    140–210 mm
    Inflorescence type
    the inflorescence is a raceme (a long unbranched stem with stalked flowers growing along it)
    Inflorescence width
    20–100 mm
    Length of flower stalk
    5–20 mm
    Length of peduncle
    100–500 mm
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of carpels
    At least 3
    Ovary position
    the sepals and/or petals are attached below the ovary
    Palate on corolla
    no
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal color
    white
    Petal fringed edges
    the petals are not fringed
    Petal fusion
    the perianth parts are separate
    Petal hairs on inner/upper surface
    there are no hairs on the inner/upper petal surface
    Petal length
    7–10 mm
    Petal number
    3
    Petal or sepal number
    there are three petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    Pistil number
    • 0
    • 6 or more
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals resemble leaves in color and texture
    Sepal length
    4–8 mm
    Sepal number
    3
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are separate from one another
    Spur length
    0 mm
    Stamen number
    • 0
    • 13 or more
    Stamen position relative to petals
    NA
    Stamens fused
    the stamens are not fused to one another
    Stamens fused to petals
    the stamens are not fused to the petals or tepals
    Style number
    At least 0
  • Fruits or seeds
    Fruit beak length
    0.1–0.5 mm
    Fruit length
    1.8–2.6 mm
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry but does not split open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is an achene (dry, usually 1-seeded, does not separate or split open at maturity)
    Fruit width
    1.3–2.5 mm
  • Glands or sap
    Oil glands on nodes
    none of the nodes have oil glands
    Sap
    the sap is milky and opaque, and may be white or colored
  • Growth form
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Root septa
    the roots have transverse septa
    Roots floating in water
    there are no clusters of roots floating in the water
    Turions
    there are no turions on the plant
    Underground organs
    the plant has one or more swollen storage organs underground, such as bulbs, tubers or corms
  • Leaves
    Bract position (Sparganium)
    NA
    Bract relative length
    At least 1379 mm
    Bracts
    the flowers or their pedicels have bracts at their bases
    Floating leaf basal lobes
    yes
    Floating leaf blade width
    35–40 mm
    Floating leaf length
    75–90 mm
    Floating leaf shape
    • the leaf blade is cordate (heart-shaped with backward-facing rounded lobes)
    • the leaf blade is linear (very narrow with more or less parallel sides)
    • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is sagittate (arrow-shaped with backward-facing pointed lobes)
    Floating leaf tip
    the tip of the floating leaf blade is acute (sharply pointed)
    Floral bract form
    the bracts are roughly as lobed as the foliage leaves
    Floral bract length
    4–40 mm
    Leaf arrangement
    basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
    Leaf blade length
    25–450 mm
    Leaf blade veins
    the lateral veins are parallel or slightly arched in the direction of the tip
    Leaf blade width
    15–110 mm
    Leaf position
    • some of the leaves are floating at the surface of the water
    • the leaves are all submerged underwater
    Leaf special features
    none of the mentioned special features are present
    Leaf-like branch segments
    0
    Leaf-like branch shape
    NA
    Specific leaf type
    the leaf is not divided, rather the blade is made up of one segment
    Staminate bract edge (Myriophyllum)
    NA
    Stipule appearance
    NA
    Stipule fused to leaf
    NA
    Stipules
    there are no stipules on the plant
    Stipules fused around stem
    NA
    Trap-bladder length
    0 mm
    Underwater leaf air passage number
    At least 1439
    Underwater leaf air passage relative width
    At least 4336
    Underwater leaf air passage row number
    0
    Underwater leaf blade edges
    the underwater leaf has smooth edges, without teeth
    Underwater leaf blade shape
    the underwater leaf blade is linear (very narrow with more or less parallel sides)
    Underwater leaf length
    Up to 450 mm
    Underwater leaf stalk
    yes
    Underwater leaf stalk length
    Up to 450 mm
    Underwater leaf tip shape
    the tip of the underwater leaf is acute (sharply pointed)
    Veins in floating leaf
    anything
  • Place
    Habitat
    • aquatic
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • edges of wetlands
    • in lakes or ponds
    • in rivers or streams
    • river or stream floodplains
    • shores of rivers or lakes
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Flowering stem growth form
    the flowering stem is upright

Wetland Status

Occurs only in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: OBL)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Connecticut
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
Massachusetts
rare (S-rank: S2), threatened (code: T)
New Hampshire
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Sagittaria latifolia:
petals 10-20 mm long, fruit beak 0.6-1.8 mm long and horizontally spreading, and floating leaves never produced (vs. S. cuneata, with petals 7-10 mm long, fruit beak 0.1-0.5 mm long and ascending, and deep water plants producing floating leaves).

Synonyms

  • Sagittaria arifolia Nutt. ex J.G. Sm.

Family

Alismataceae

Genus

Sagittaria

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Sagittaria cuneata Sheldon N

northern arrowhead. Sagittaria arifolia Nutt. ex J.G. Sm. • CT, MA, ME, NH, VT; mainly in northern New England, confined to western half of the southern New England states. Circumneutral to slightly basic water of lakes, slow-moving streams, and pools. Sagittaria cuneata is known to produce three different leaf morphologies—strap-shaped phyllodia on deep-water plants, floating leaf blades on moderate to deep-water plants, and sagittate leaf blades on recurved petioles on emersed plants.