Sagittaria cuneata (Arum-leaved Arrowhead)

Plant Info
Also known as: Northern Arrowhead
Family:Alismataceae (Water Plantain)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; ponds, marshes, lake shores
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:4 to 24 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 3-petals Cluster type: raceme Cluster type: whorled

[photo of flowers] Flowers are whorled in groups of 3 in a spike-like raceme at the top of a naked stem. There are usually both male and female flowers on the same stem, with whorls of males above the females. Both genders are ½ to ¾ inch across with 3 broad, paddle-shaped, white petals and 3 small, pale green to brownish sepals behind the flower. Male flowers have a group of yellow stamens in the center. Female flowers have a bulbous green center, covered in tiny carpels.

[photo of bracts and sepals] At the base of the whorl are 2 or 3 narrowly triangular to lance-shaped bracts that are sharply pointed at the tip, and ¼ to 1½ inches long, often nearly as long as the flower stalks. The bracts shrivel up quickly, the brown, papery remains persisting through fruiting. A plant has 1 or more flowering stems, each with 2 to 10 whorls of flowers. The flowering stem may be taller or shorter than the basal leaves and is sometimes branched at the lowest whorl of flowers.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of arrowhead-shaped leaves] A rosette of toothless, hairless basal leaves surrounds the flowering stems. Emersed leaves are up to 3½ inches long, to 2 inches wide, typically arrowhead shaped, with the basal lobes shorter than the remainder of the blade, or sometimes egg to somewhat heart-shaped, without the basal lobes. Emersed leaves are long stalked and may be erect, rising above the water, but often floating on the surface.

[linear basal leaves, on stranded plant] Submersed leaves are ribbon-like, flat and linear with sharply pointed tips and may grow to 18 inches long in deeper water. Flowering stems and leaf stalks are hairless.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a globular head, about ½ inch in diameter, of beaked seeds. The beak is erect at the top of the seed


Of the 6 Sagittaria species in Minnesota, Arum-leaved Arrowhead most closely resembles Broad-leaved Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia), but in miniature. The arrowhead-shaped leaves differ with S. latifolia having basal lobes that are usually about as long as the remainder of the blade and the seeds have a horizontal beak, where S. cuneata has shorter lobes and an erect beak. This is the predominant Sagittaria species in drainage ditches in western Minnesota and the Dakotas.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Lake County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Lake County and in North Dakota.


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