Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Longbeak Arrowhead - Sagittaria australis   (J.G. Smith) Small
Members of Alismataceae:
Members of Sagittaria with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Alismatales » Family Alismataceae
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Author(J.G. Smith) Small
DistributionPresent over most of the Piedmont and northern half of the Coastal Plain. Essentially absent in the outer Coastal Plain and Mountains (with a single record for Alleghany County so far).

This is an Eastern species ranging from NJ and mainly southeastern MO south to the FL Panhandle and LA.
AbundanceGenerally uncommon to infrequent in the Piedmont and northern Coastal Plain, but rare in the southern Coastal Plain. Very rare in the Mountains, where probably absent in most counties.
HabitatThe habitats are typical for arrowheads (Sagittaria) in general, being found in marshes, river shores, lake and pond margins, swamp openings, and wet creek banks. Most records are from brownwater river systems, which suggests a preference for higher pH water.
See also Habitat Account for General Broadleaf Herbaceous Mires
PhenologyBlooms from June into October, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is one of a few arrowheads that has quite large and sagittate (arrowhead-shaped) leaf blades. The several leaves have quite long stalks, up to 1.5 feet long, and the blades are up to 6 inches long and 3-4 inches wide, with a tapering tip. The base of a leaf is usually deeply forked into a long triangular shape. The leaf shape is a bit more deeply cut at the base than is the common S. latifolia, but this can be variable. The flowering stalk is like several other species, being about 1.5-2 feet long, containing 3-15 whorls of fairly large white flowers at each node (whorl). Each flower has 3 petals, and the flower is somewhat over 1 inch across. This species has a 5-angled leaf stalk, unlike others in the genus. The bracts of the flowers are papery and tan in color, acuminate at the tips, typically longer than on S. latifolia. The closely related S. engelmanniana has bracts of the inflorescence thick and herbaceous and rounded at the tip. Some of the most important characters in separating arrowheads lie in the seed (achene) shape; see references for these details.
Taxonomic CommentsSome references, especially older ones, use the name Sagittaria longirostra, and a few others have or had it included as a subspecies within S. engelmanniana, as ssp. longirostra.

Other Common Name(s)Appalachian Arrowhead
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