The Sagittaria latifolia, or Broadleaf Arrowhead, is a native aquatic plant which grows tuberous roots that can be eaten like potatoes.
Lewis and Clark found this plant at the mouth of the Willamette and considered the tubers equal to potato and valuable for trade.
Today the tubers are commonly harvested with a hoe, pitchfork, or rake then baked in fire embers, poiled, or roasted. They can also be skinned and eaten whole or mashed as mashed 'potatoes'.
The Chippewa Indians would gather these tubers in the fall, string them together and hang them overhead in the wigwam to dry, they'd then boil them later for use.
As a medicinal plant many different tribes had uses for this tuber - and infusion to clean and treat wounds, as a headache cure, to remedy indigestion, as a dermatological aid, a laxative, and as a ceremonial blessing when they began planting corn.
As wildlife food, the Broadleaf Arrowhead is an important source of nutrients - 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 muskrat and porcupine eat the tubers.
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.