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broad leaved arrowhead
(arrowhead), a genus of perennial monoecious and dioecious aquatic or marsh herbs of the family Alismaceae. The leaves are in a basal rosette. In aquatic species the leaves are mainly of three types: those that are submerged are ribbon-like, those that are floating are ovate to linear-lanceolate, and those that emerge above the water’s surface are sagittate and long-petioled. The white, usually unisexual flowers have a double perianth and are gathered into whorls of three, forming a racemose inflorescence. The fruit is a cluster of greatly compressed carpels.
There are about 20 species of arrowhead. Three or four species occur in the Old World; the rest are distributed in temperate and tropical America. The USSR has four species, one of which is not native. The Old World arrowhead (S. sagittifolia) grows near shores and in bodies of water with stagnant or sluggish currents; it often forms a dense cover over extensive areas. The species S. trifolia is found in southern regions. In late summer both species develop horizontal shoots with tuberous formations, which are edible and rich in starch. In Japan and China a form of 5. trifolia is cultivated for its tubers.
Arrowhead species serve as food for swimming birds. Several species, including S. sagittifolia and S. latifolia, are cultivated as ornamentals.