The Native Americans have been consuming the edible broadleaf arrowhead tubers for centuries. The tubers are both dietary food and medicine for treating mild illnesses, yet, the other communities are not as well aware of it. It is also known as Indian potato, duck-potato, or wapato.
Origins of Broadleaf Arrowhead
Arrowhead plant (Sagittaria latifolia) is an aquatic plant commonly found in ponds, river bands, swamps and lakes. The hardy plant traces its origin to southern Canada but it has since spread far and wide all over the world. With its robust roots that allow the plant to dwell on different water levels, the plant can colonize a wide area rapidly. In certain countries, arrowhead plant is considered as an invasive weed.
Their ability to spread rapidly on different growth zones made the plant an ideal choice as an alternate food source to feed increasing world population. Twice a year harvest in Fall and Spring can be expected.
The tubers can be easily separated from the root with a pitch fork, feet, or stick. When detached, the tubers usually float to the surface and that makes collection very easy.
The whole plant is edible but the tubers are preferred. The tubers are usually cooked for a short duration prior to consumption. It tastes bitter if eaten raw. It can be prepared in a similar way as ground potatoes whether deep fried, stir fried, roasted, steamed or boiled. Arrowhead chips have a creamy nutty taste of it that is very much preferred in Asia.
The tuber can also be grounded into flour. The flour has many uses in culinary preparation, such as thickener in source and as a binder in meat patty.
In terms of nutritious values, boiled arrowhead tubers yield about half the amount of calories as potatoes but nearly double the amount of protein. It contains a fair amount of vitamin B6 and is rich in phosphorus, potassium, manganese and magnesium.
The arrowhead plant can be helpful in preventing soil erosion along river bands and given sea level is expected to rise globally in coming decades, the plant together with other robust aquatic plants can serve as an important ecological stabilizer.