Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Bull-tongue Arrowhead - Sagittaria lancifolia   L.
Members of Alismataceae:
Members of Sagittaria with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 5 » Order Alismatales » Family Alismataceae
DistributionFound essentially only in the Tidewater zone, reaching the inner portions of Albemarle and Pamlico sounds, and ranging from the VA line to the SC line.

This is a mostly coastal species, ranging from DE on the north, through all of FL and west to southeastern TX. It rarely ranges inland even to the Fall Line in most states.
AbundanceFairly common to locally common in tidal marshes. A State Rank of S4 might be more appropriate, though the website editors have left the NC NHP's S3S4 rank as is.
HabitatThis species is limited in the state to tidal freshwater or oligohaline marshes along and near the coast, including shorelines of Albemarle and Pamlico sounds and the tidal parts of several rivers, such as the Tar and Chowan (in Pitt and Hertford counties, respectively). On the Outer Banks it also inhabits interdune marshes and ponds.
PhenologyBlooms from June to September, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is the familiar arrowhead species of our tidal freshwater marshes, and our tallest species. It has emergent leaves that range up to 2-3 feet high, though the petiole is roughly two-thirds of this total. The leaf blade is normally elliptic to ovate, often 9 inches long or more, and several inches wide. The flowering stalks can about equal the leaf length, up to 2-3 feet long, with 5-12 whorls of flowers; the lowest whorl is often branched, to yield a somewhat narrow triangular shape to the inflorescence. Each of the 3-petaled white flowers can be up to 1.5 inches across, among the largest in the genus. Though there are some small/technical characters that are sometimes used to separate this and all other Sagittaria species, this species is the widespread, robust one with fairly broad elliptical leaves that can be seen in our coastal freshwater or slightly brackish marshes.
Taxonomic CommentsOlder references listed this as Sagittaria falcata. Current references generally assign several varieties to it, with only one of these -- S. lancifolia var. media -- occurring in NC.

Other Common Name(s)Lanceleaf Arrowhead
State RankS3S4
Global RankG5?
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