Sagittaria latifolia (Broad-leaf Arrowhead)

Plant Info
Also known as: Common Arrowhead, Duck Potato
Family:Alismataceae (Water Plantain)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; swamps, streams, wet ditches, shallow water
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:1 to 4 feet
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

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

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

[photo of female flowers] Flowers are whorled in groups of 3 in a spike-like raceme up to 1 foot long. There are usually both male and female flowers on the same stem, but sometimes a stem has a single gender. Both genders are about 1 inch across with 3 broad white petals and 3 small pale green sepals behind the flower. Female flowers have a bulbous green center, covered in tiny carpels.

[photo of male flowers] Male flowers have a group of golden yellow stamens in the center.

[photo of bracts] At the base of the whorl are 2 or 3 boat-shaped bracts that are 1/8 to 1/3 inch long and typically less than half 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 stem, each with 3 to 9 whorls of flowers. The flowering stem may be taller or shorter than the basal leaves.

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

[photo of leaves] A rosette of basal leaves surrounds the flowering stems. Leaves are toothless, hairless and arrowhead shaped with the basal lobes at least half as long as, and usually up to a little longer than, the remainder of the blade. Leaves are up to 16 inches long but are usually about half that.

[photo of narrow-lobed leaves] The width is highly variable. In shallow water or drier soil conditions leaves are broad, and narrow when the plant is submersed in deeper water. Leaf stalks are up to 2 feet long. Flowering stems and stalks are hairless.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a head of beaked seeds, that eventually turns dark brown. The beak projects horizontally from the top of the seed.


Of the 6 Sagittaria species in Minnesota, Broad-leaf Arrowhead is the most common, found in wet ditches and the shallow waters of lakes, ponds and streams all across the state. All Arrowheads have similar white, 3-petaled flowers and long-stalked, basal leaves. Ways to distinguish them are the size and shape of the bracts at the base of the flower whorl, the size of (or absense of) the leaf basal lobes relative to the rest of the blade, and the angle of the beak on the seeds. Broad-leaf Arrowhead has the largest leaves of the MN species, the basal lobes are at least half as long, often as long as, the remainder of the blade, seed beaks are horizontal, and the boat-shaped bracts relatively short.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Vadnais/Snail Lake and Battle Creek Regional Parks, Ramsey County, and Interstate State Park, Chisago County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Mark - Oakdale Nature Preserve, Oakdale MN
on: 2010-07-24 22:02:18

In the water-filled ditch where old 45th crosses the swamp south of Mud Lake.

Posted by: Gale - Purgetory Park Preserve, Eden Prairie
on: 2011-08-10 10:51:30

saw several plants, a few blooming on Aug. 10, 2011 at mid morning. Located at small, still pond on far west side of large marsh area, just to the left of the walking path. Large, mature oaks on small knoll above pond.

Posted by: Gale - purgetory Park Preserve, Eden Prairie
on: 2011-08-10 10:58:08

Also, is there a narrow-leaf arrowhead? the leaves on the ones we saw (which I believe was the male broad-leaf arrowhead) had a very similar looking arrow like leaf, but all three 'lobes' were longer and more slender that the photo shown here. thanks for the great photos!

Posted by: Robin - McLeod co. near Hutchinson
on: 2011-08-23 22:11:13

Along restored wetland dikes.

Posted by: Rosalyn - Maplewood
on: 2013-08-11 11:43:39

We were intrigued by the appearance of this plant in a creek which runs along Larpentuer Avenue. We had never seen this plant before in this creek. The cattails are plentiful in the creek but this is the first year that a lush growth of arrowhead appeared. It is beautiful. We did not see any blooms on it this summer however. We did not know what this plant was until we visited Savannah Portage State Park and there we saw it again. It was listed in their park information about plants seen in the park. We were delighted to learn its name so we could learn more about this plant.

Posted by: Susan - Eden Prairie; on the edge of our backyard creek
on: 2014-07-28 11:47:43

July 2014. Second year for this "volunteer" plant. Am sure it's Broad Leaved Arrowhead Sagittaria Latifolla and not Arrow Arum Peltandra Virginica because of the more circular veining pattern of the leaf. We left it alone last summer because it was clearly a water plant and we were intrigued with what it might become. It's a lot bigger this year--leaves chartreuse yellow/green on 12-18" stems; no flowers last year and none yet this year. Leaves are fairly broad--consistent with your photo of plant in drier soil. Our creek doesn't always have water in it. Is this plant considered invasive? Do I need to keep it in check?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2014-07-28 12:49:42

Susan, I wouldn't call it invasive but it does tend to create colonies. You can just yank up early shoots if it starts spreading more than you like.

Posted by: Shelley - Stillwater
on: 2017-08-21 15:05:09

Found in water-filled ditch in town along 75th St.

Posted by: Ashley - Between Lake Vermillion and Lost Lake west of Tower, MN
on: 2018-07-07 18:34:07

Found in a Jeep trail ditch.

Posted by: Joanne - Whiteface Reservoir, St. Louis County
on: 2018-08-05 19:54:33

I spotted it in a little cove of an island while kayaking.

Posted by: Linda Thomas - Milaca, MN
on: 2019-07-19 10:32:10

This plant is on the invasive or Federal Noxious weed list?? I have this in my pond in Milaca, do I eradicate? Why is it considered noxious in 46 states? Please advise. Linda Thomas

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2019-07-19 16:42:20

Linda, I'm not sure where you got the info that this was a noxious weed in 46 states. It is native and not a problem plant at all that we know of. Maybe some recreational boaters don't like it impeding traffic near some shorelines. Either way I'd leave it be. It's food for ducks.

Posted by: Renay Leone - Tamarack bog near Elk River
on: 2019-08-17 17:19:26

Never saw this before but it's in a small pond on our family farm between Elk River and Zimmerman in Sherburne County. Beautiful!

Posted by: Jodi Julseth - Maple Grove
on: 2019-11-05 00:26:34

Pond on 88Th Ave N and Goldenrod has this growing in abundance.

Posted by: Gail - Blaine Wetlands
on: 2020-07-10 12:41:47

Saw this for the first time today on a walk at the Blaine Wetlands. Lovely!

Posted by: Barbara Boulton - Tuttle Lake - Martin County
on: 2021-08-13 07:31:10

Seen along the shore today. Beautiful mid-August flowers and large striking leaves.

Posted by: Angela - Lakeville
on: 2023-07-08 19:16:15

We cut down some tall weeds on the edge of the marsh in our backyard. Some of these are now poking out of the edge of where we had cut. Pretty. I?m leaving them.

Posted by: Sue Halena - Rotary Nature Preserve, White Bear Township
on: 2023-07-31 10:20:13

Abundant along the boardwalk crossing the wetland in this park.

Posted by: Tony - Chisago Lake Twp
on: 2023-09-01 13:08:19

09/01/23 - Chisago Lake Twp. We have approx 2 acre pond that is at max 5 ft deep. We have been here 8-years, but only since 2022 have I noticed these plants starting to grow in the pond. Over the past 2-years the amount of plants have doubled. My concern is, with all of the plants, the pond water level drops about 1.5 feet by the end of the summer. If they continue to double every two years, I fear they will completely drain the pond. Is it possible they will completely drain the pond? Is there a point where they will stop spreading (do they only spread when water levels will support growth)? Any thoughts/suggestions would be appreciated.

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-09-01 13:18:48

Tony, the plants would not be entirely to blame for low water levels. Keep in mind we've had droughts for a couple years now which are probably more to blame.

Posted by: Tony - Chisago Lake Twp
on: 2023-09-01 16:06:52

Thanks K Chayka I do understand that we've had droughts for the past several years, but my concern is more on the water levels that support the wildlife habitat. Will these plants continue to fill up the pond and consume water to an extent that the ducks, frogs, dragon flies, beaver and muskrats, that also need adequate water levels to survive, can?t.

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-09-01 16:19:59

Tony, I don't have an answer to your question. The arrowhead will likely spread, but not as much as cattails would.

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