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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka Duck Potato, Is`-ze-kn, Katniss, Wapatoo, Wild Potato
(Sagittaria spp)

CAUTION: Some varieties can cause contact dermatitis.

More of a wild food source than of any medicinal use. Plants of this species were employed as a starchy food by Native Americans. Asian species were employed by the Chinese in the same manner (notably S. chinensis). There are about 30 species worldwide with most being found in the tropics. Native Americans ate them boiled or roasted, used them for trade and used them to make bread and put them in soups. Some gathered the roots in fall, strung them and hung them overhead in wigwams to dry and use in the winter months by boiling. They also learned to retrieve the roots in caches within the dens of muskrats and beavers who store them.
They grow in shallow water from fibrous roots and form tubers. The leaves appear on long stems and the flowers appear on tall stems followed by a ball of beaked seeds. The beak of S. latifolia (most commonly used variety in the eastern US) is horizontal. The flowers appear in whorls of 3 with 3 rounded petals each. The potato-like tubers are harvested by freeing them from the mud with a rake or hoe and the tubers will float to the surface and are collected.
A number are used (like Water Plantain) as diuretics and antiscorbutics (curing or preventing scurvy). Several Brazilian species are used as astringent and the expressed juice was used in making ink. In English folk medicine a strengthening brew was made using exactly 9 leaves to each brew.

CONTAINS: (On a zero moisture basis [ZMB]:
Roots (per 100 grams): 364 calories, 17.0 grams protein, 1.0 g fat, 76.2 g total carbohydrate, 3.1 g fiber, 5.8 g ash, 44 mg Calcium, .3 g. Phosphorus.
Flower (inflorescence): 307n calories, 42.7 g protein, 6.7 g fat, 41.3 g total carbohydrate, 5.3 g fiber, 9.3 g ash, 1.1 g calcium, 0.4 g phosphorus, 43.7 mg beta-carotene equivalent, 0.87 mg thiamine, 3.2 mg riboflavin, 6.67 mg niacin, 200 mg ascorbic acid.
Seeds: 20.5 g protein, 3.5 g fat.

GARDENING: Not for the home garden and they should not be disturbed in the wild.


(Sagittaria graminea)

Blooms May-Sept.


Tubers were eaten by Native Americans in Oregon, Montana and Wisconsin after roasting.


Natives Americans applied a poultice of the leaves to feet and dropsical legs and to the breast to dispel milk.
A poultice of the leaves was also used for wounds and sores.
A leaf tea was used for rheumatism and to wash babies with fever.
The Ojibwe and Chippewa steeped the root and drank the decoction for indigestion.
The Mohawk made an infusion of Sweet Flag root (Acorus calamus) and the entire Arrowhead plant to give to infants suffering from night fever.

[ci gu]

Considered discutient and antilactogue. May induce premature birth.
The Bruised leaf was used for bugbite, foul sores, scrofulous ulcers, snakebite.
The powdered leaves were used for itch.
The leaves mashed with molasses were used for breast inflammation and sore throat.
The tuber was used for deficient lochia (discharge occurring after childbirth for several weeks), retention of placenta, and for gravel.
Was used with salt for rabies.
A decoction was used for eye disease and gonorrhea.

(Sagittaria rigida)

Blooms May-Oct; fruits are stalkless.

©2000 by Ernestina Parziale, CH