DALS WILDLIFE SITE { WILDLIFE OF NORTHERN ENGLAND}

WILDLIFE OF NORTHERN ENGLAND

Arrowhead Sagittaria sagittifolia.    {Below flower in bloom}

Courtesy of Christian Fischer CC BY-SA 3.0 license.}SagittariaSagittifoliaInflorescence2.jpg

Introduction. 

This plant takes its common name of Arrowhead, from the shape of its leaves.  It is a member of the family of plants known as the Alismataceae in the plant order Alismatales. It is placed in the genus Sagittaria {shaped like an arrow} which is also the source of its specific name  sagittifolia {arrow-shaped leaves}.

It is native to most of the wetlands that occur in Europe. 

The arrowhead-shaped foliage 

Courtesy of Christian Fischer   CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Description.

The stem of this plant is swollen at the base and throws out creeping stolons and runnners which produce globose winter tubers half an inch in diameter composed almost entirely of starch. it is classed as a semi aquatic plant. The leaves of this plant are borne on long triangular stalks the y are lobed in an arrow shape and vary in size depending on the amount of water that they grow in these leaves stand above the water. The also produce much smaller elliptical leaves that float on the water and these are the first to appear in spring. The leaves are green and glossy. 

The flower stems rise directly from the root and bears several rings of buds and blossoms, three in each ring or whorl, and each flower composed of three outer  sepals and three large , pure white petals, with a purple blotch at the base. The upper flowers are stamen-bearing  and the lower ones contain the seed vessels only. the male flowers sit above the female flowers. Individual flowers are 2-2.5 cm { About an inch} wide. The plant attains the height of 60-100cm { two to four feet}. 

They may be encountered  from July -August in the margins of streams, slow-flowing rives, and wet ditches .

Arrowhead growing in a stream in Germany.

Image courtesy of Botaurus stellaris   Public domain.

Past uses.

This species produces starchy roots which are crunchy even after cooking. The tubers are about the size of a small walnut  and were used in culinary dishes in the past in countries such as Japan China and Vietnam. In China especially they were used in medicinal preparations.  

It has been stated that they are excellent when roasted somewhat like potatoes. It is also recommended that the tubers should not be eaten in their raw state.  The leaves and young stems were also used for culinary purposes however, they are somewhat acrid.

They have been used in medicinal preparations as a diuretic and as an antiscorbutic.

 

Arrowhead and wildlife.

Like many aquatic plants the stems and leaves that are found in shallow or slow moving water, they allow shelter and resting places for insects such as dragonfly and damselfly nymphs.

The flowers are succeeded by globular fruit heads.

Image courtesy of Karelj  CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

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