An arrowhead-shaped green leaf with white flowers.

NPS/Gordon Dietzman

Rivers, Lakes, and Wetlands Home


This plant’s stems tipped in distinctive arrowhead-shaped leaves emerge from shallow water areas at the edges of rivers, backwaters, and ponds. Leaf shapes are highly variable with some plants having broad, heart- or arrowhead-shaped leaves and others having much narrower leaves. The flowers have three white petals and occur in whorls of 2-15, with three being average. It is often found in colonies, some of which can be extensive.

The arrowhead’s rhizomes end in a starchy, edible tuber used by both wildlife and historically by Native Americans. Snapping turtles, beavers, muskrats, and up to 15 species of ducks nation-wide feed on the arrowhead tubers, especially during migration.


  • Arrowhead shaped leaves, from which the plant is named.
  • Blooms from summer to early fall.

Find It

Look for this plant in shallow water areas of Fort Snelling State Park and Crosby Farm Regional Park.

Fascinating Facts

  • Other names for arrowhead include "wapato" or "duck potato."
  • Ducks, such as canvasbacks along with swans and other waterfowl, feed heavily on the tubers that form on the arrowhead roots, especially during migration.

Want to Help Us Better Understand the Park?

See our iNaturalist project, "The Life of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area" and contribute to it by downloading the iNaturalist app and uploading your sightings of this species, and others, to the project. You can also upload your sightings from your computer.

Last updated: June 25, 2019

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111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55101


This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center.

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