[The Water Plantain Family in the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington]

Arumleaf Arrowhead, Arum-leaf Arrowhead, Wapato

Sagittaria cuneata

Synonym: Sagittaria arifolia

Flowers of Arumleaf Arrowhead, Arum-leaf Arrowhead, Wapato: Sagittaria cuneata (Synonym: Sagittaria arifolia)

Basal leaf of Arumleaf Arrowhead, Arum-leaf Arrowhead, Wapato: Sagittaria cuneata (Synonym: Sagittaria arifolia)Characteristics:

The prefix of the genus name, sagitta- means arrow.

Arumleaf arrowhead is sometimes known as wapato, or occasionally as floating arrowhead. It is an attractive aquatic plant, especially the arrowhead-shaped leaves. Plants are perennial and are up to 80 cm high, with several to many very long petiolate leaves arising from a fleshy rootstock or tuber. The blade is lance-linear to ovate in shape. The two basal lobes are as long to much shorter, but similar form to the blade (See photo at right.) The whole blade measures from 6-20 cm long and 2-10 cm wide.

The flower scapes are equal in height or shorter than the leaves. The inflorescence is often branched with the flowers in 3-7 whorls. The bracts of the inflorescence are lanceolate in shape and measure 5-30 mm long. The flowers consist of 3 white petals from 7-12 mm long. The 3 sepals are 5-8 mm long. The flowers are either staminate or pistillate. The stamens number 15-25. Plants bloom from July to September in the Pacific Northwest.

The tubers of the arrowheads are edible when roasted or boiled. They were important food sources of first the Native Americans and then the pioneers.


Arumleaf arrowhead may be found both in calm water and along the muddy shores of rivers and ponds. It is often found in moderately deep water with the blades floating or barely raised above the water.


Arumleaf arrowhead may be found to the east of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mts. from British Columbia south to southern California and east to Nova Scotia, New York, Illinois, Utah, New Mexico and northern Texas.

In the Columbia River Gorge it may be found between the elevations of 0'-700' from the Sandy River east to The Dalles, OR.

Paul Slichter