Water plantain family

Alismataceae uncludes approxi – mately 16 genera of aquatic herbs, which are widely distributed in tropical and temperate regions.  This family was assumed to be primitive because of thu numerous stamens, but current thought is that the group is more highly evolved. The plants have tuberous roots or rhi-zomes and a latex sap. The shape of the leaf varies considerably if growing underwater, floating, or above the surface (emergent). Flowers are bisexual, or unisexual with male and female flowers on the same plant(monoecious) or on  separate plants (dioecious). Young plants are produced at the ands of stolons and can be used for propagation. They can be grown in pond margins or in submerged contain -ers half – filled with loam. A layer of gravel is spread on top to keep the soil from floating. Adjust containers with blocks so the water just covers the container. In temperate regions store tubers indoors in win-ter. Because they are potentially in vasive, these species should be grown only in artificial, free – stand -ing  ponds , never in bodies  of water connected to wetlands or streams.


Sagittaria includes approximately 20 species of aquatic herbs which are widely distributed. Most of the plant is above the water surface (emergent), the roots in shallow water – edge muck. The tubers of some species, called wapato, were a food staple of American Indians Cultivation by Indians probably ac-counts for their wide distribution. Leaves can be quite variable on the same plant making identification difficult. Submerged leaves are usually linear, floating or emergent leaves have broad blades. The genus name alludes to the commonly sagittate leaf (from Sagittar – ius the Goat), a triangular blade with hornlike, backward -projecting lobes at the base. A few species have spear – shaped leaves. Flowers are unisexual, with male and female flowers on the same pant (monoecious).

Sagittaria lancifolia

Bull-tongue arrowhead

Mild temperate and tropical wet-lands of the Americas. Aquatic per – ennial herb, 3-6 ft, zones 9-11. Blooms warm months. wet, Fertile loam or pond muck. Full sun. Flowers: unisexual, petal 3, white, on a branched inflorescence stalk to 6 ft .Leaves: lanceolate to elliptic, peti – oles and blades erect, 2-3 ft. long.

Sagittaria montevidensis

Spotted arrowhead

 Southern South America, nutural-ized in the eastern United States. Aquatic perennial herb, 1-2 ft, zones 9-11. Blooms warm months. wet, Fertile loam or pond muck. Full sun. Flowers: Unisexual, petals 3, white with a large burgundy or green spot on each petal. Leaves: emergent blades triangular with backward – projecting lobes at the base (sagittate), submerged blades linear.

Leave a Comment