About Sagittaria Latifolia
Sagittaria Latifolia is a vigorous, deciduous, marginal aquatic perennial that typically grows submerged in shallow water or out of water on wet muddy banks. It grows 1 to 4 feet tall.
The common names of Duck Potato and Wapato are in reference to the edible, enlarged rounded starchy golfball-sized tubers that form at the ends of underground plant runners or rhizomes. The plant was once an important source of food for Native Americans, and Wapato is one of the names they gave it.
These and similar plants were also referred to by indiginous Americans as "Katniss" plants. You can read more about the history of that name here.
The sap is milky, however, these are an exception to the "avoid plants with milky sap" edibility rule.
Habitat: Sloughs, swamps, marshes and margins of streams and ponds. Common and widespread.
Leaves: Leaves grow in a clump. Arrowhead-shaped leaves are typically 4 to 12 inches long and 2 to 6 inches wide, but emersed leaves can grow up to 1 1/2 feet long. Submerged leaves are often much narrower, and are linear to ovate. Leaves and flowers are produced on separate stalks.
Flowers: 1 inch wide, three-petaled, white or pink-tinged with green or yellow centers, whorls of 3 grow atop stalks rising to 4 feet tall
Harvest and Preparation: Dislodge tubers from the mud from late fall to early spring with a hoe, a stick, or your feet. Tubers will float to the surface and are easily collected. Pulling the greenery will usually only break it off. If eaten raw, they have an unpleasant, acrid taste. If eaten cooked, they have a pleasant, sweet taste. Arrowhead tubers are first washed and are then cooked by frying, by boiling for 15 minutes in salt water, or by roasting for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. After cooking, they may be peeled. If not consumed, they may be dried, sliced, or mashed, and stored for the winter. If dried, allow 20 minutes soaking time before adding to recipes.
Medicinal Uses: Native Americans ground the rhizome and used as tea for indigestion. Pulverized rhizomes were also used in poltices for wounds and sores, a tea made from the leaves was used to relieve rhumatism and to bathe babies with fever, ground leaves were used in a poltice to stop milk production.
*Handling this plant may cause contact dermatitis in some people.
Poisonous Look-Alikes: None
Credit For Content:
Missouri Botanical Garden
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Indiana Native Plant And Wildflower Society
Edible Wild Plants - A North American Guide To Over 200 Natural Foods
North American Cornicopia: Top 100 Indiginous Food Plants