Sagittaria sagittifolia

Sagittaria sagittifolia

The Arrow Head (Sagittaria sagittifolia L.) is a herbaceous species belonging to the Alismataceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota Domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Magnoliophyta Division,
Alismatales Order,
Alismataceae family,
Genus Sagittaria,
S. sagittifolia species.
The terms are synonymous:
– Alisma Sagittaria Stokes;
– Sagitta aquatica (Lam.) St.-Lag .;
– Sagitta major Scop .;
– Sagitta palustris Bubani;
– Sagittaria acuminata Sm .;
– Sagittaria aquatica Lam .;
– Bulbous sagittaria (Poir.) Donn;
– Sagittaria gigantea H. Vilm .;
– Sagittaria heterophylla Schreb .;
– Sagittaria lancifolia H. Vilm .;
– Sagittaria minor Mill .;
– Gilib monoecal sagittaria;
– Sagittaria tenuior Ghent .;
– Sagittaria vulgaris Gueldenst .;
– Vallisneria bulbous Poir.

Etymology –
The term Sagittaria comes from arrow sagitta: for the shape of the leaves similar to arrowheads.
The specific epithet sagittifolia comes from sagítta freccia and from fólium leaf, lamella: an epithet that reinforces the generic name.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The Arrow Head is a widely distributed Eurasian species that grows mostly in Europe, including Great Britain, temperate Asia, and North America.
In Italy it is present in almost all central-northern regions (missing in Val d’Aosta, Trentino-Alto Adige, and perhaps in the Marche and Abruzzo).
Its habitat is that of ponds, ditches with water, swamps and rice fields with meso-eutrophic waters, slow-flowing, on muddy substrates in water up to 50 cm deep, in acid or limestone conditions, from sea level to about 500 m. .
This plant was once much more widespread but today it is rapidly rarefying.

Description –
Sagittaria sagittifolia is a herbaceous perennial plant, which grows in water from 10 to 50 cm high.
It has tubers that are carried at the end of thin roots, often 30 cm deep in the soil and at some distance from the mother plant. The tubers of wild plants have a diameter of about 15 cm.
The leaves above the water are lightning bolt-shaped, can reach a length of 15-25 cm and a width of 10-22 cm, and are attached to a stem that can remain even 45 cm in height from the water . The submerged leaves are thin and linear, up to 80 cm long and 2 wide.
The flowers are 2 to 2.5 cm wide, with three small sepals, three white petals and several purple stamens.
The fruit is a polyacene of 8-10 x 10-12 mm, with achenes of 4-4.5 x 3-3.5 mm, asymmetrical, crescent-shaped, compressed, winged. 2-2.1 x 1.1-1.3 mm obovoid seeds, foveolate, blackish or reddish, translucent in the center.

Cultivation –
Sagittaria sagittifolia is a plant that can be grown in garden ponds or swamps and requires a damp or wet clayey soil in a sunny position.
Prefers shallow, still or slowly flowing waters up to 50 (60) cm deep.
The plant tolerates cold enough, survives temperatures down to at least -10 ° C, although the top growth is damaged once temperatures drop below freezing. They grow best in warm weather and require at least a six-month growing season to produce a crop.
This species is polymorphic, and the subspecies S. sagittifolia leucopetala is widely cultivated for its edible bulb in China where many varieties exist.
Propagation can take place by seed which is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a suitable pot that is in about 5 cm of water. Plants should be transplanted when they are large enough to handle by gradually increasing the water depth as the plants grow to about 5cm above the top of the pot. The transplant should be done in late spring or early summer of the following year.
It can easily propagate by division of the tubers in spring or autumn.

Customs and Traditions –
The round and edible tuber, of Sagittaria sagittifolia, is known in Japan as Omodaka (沢 瀉 澤瀉 面 高), literally “good mushroom”. This is mostly eaten around the time of the Chinese New Year celebrations. It tastes bland and is rich in starch, similar to a potato but more crunchy, even when cooked.
The flavor is best when roasted.
However, the tubers should not be eaten raw. The skin is quite bitter and is best removed after the tubers are cooked.
The tubers can also be dried and ground into a powder; this powder can be used as a baby food etc. or be added to cereal flours and used to make bread.
The tubers, for a greater nutritional value, are harvested in late summer when the leaves dry out.
The dried root contains (per 100g) 364 calories, 17g of protein, 1g of fat, 76.2g of carbohydrates, 3.1g of fiber, 5.8g of ash, 44mg of calcium, 561mg of phosphorus, 8.8 mg of iron, 2.480 mg of potassium, 0.54 mg of thiamine, 0.14 mg of riboflavin, 4.76 mg of niacin and 17 mg of ascorbic acid. They do not contain carotene.
This plant is used in folk medicine as an antiscorbutic and diuretic. The leaves are used to treat a variety of skin problems.
The tuber is galactofuge and can induce premature birth.
Among other uses, it should be remembered that this plant can play an important role in phytodepuration plants.

Preparation Method –
The tubers of Sagittaria sagittifolia, as well as cooked and roasted, can be dried and ground into powder.
Even the leaves and young stems can be eaten cooked and have a slightly acrid smell.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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