Sagittaria trifolia (PROSEA)

From PlantUse English
Jump to: navigation, search
Logo PROSEA.png
Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Sagittaria trifolia L.

Family: Alismataceae


Sagittaria sinensis Sims, S. hirundinacea Blume, S. sagittifolia L. subsp. leucopetala (Miquel) Hartog [ sagittifolia also erroneously written as sagittaefolia ].

Vernacular names

  • Arrowhead, arrow-weed, swamp potato (En). Fléchière, sagittaire (Fr)
  • Indonesia: bea-bea (general), eceng genjer (Sundanese), kalopak (Sulawesi)
  • Malaysia: ubi keladi, keladi chabang
  • Philippines: gauai-gauai (Bisaya), tikog (Bikol)
  • Cambodia: slök lumpaèng
  • Laos: phak sôb
  • Thailand: khakhiat, taokiat (central), phakkhangkai (northern)
  • Vietnam: rau mác, từcô, củchóc.


Asia, from the Black Sea to Japan and throughout South-East Asia. In Malesia it is only indigenous in Sumatra, Sulawesi and the Philippines, elsewhere it has been introduced. Also introduced in other warm temperate to tropical areas (e.g. in Australia, Pacific Islands). Most important in China.


The tubers are edible but should be consumed boiled (when raw they are poisonous). Young leaves are used as a vegetable and aboveground parts are used as fodder, especially for pigs. In Vietnam the tubers are used medically as a tonic and a laxative.


Perennial aquatic herb, about 1 m tall, glabrous, laticiferous, with slender 15-35 cm long rhizomes, thickening at the tip into tubers of 3-6 cm length and 2-5 cm diameter. Leaves in a radical rosette, emerged ones erect, sagittate, with linear to lanceolate lobes up to 19 cm × 3 cm; petiole sharply triangular, ribbed, 20-60 cm long, containing air-channels, sheathing at the base; submerged leaves linear, up to 80 cm × 2 cm; floating leaves lanceolate to ovate. Inflorescence a raceme, with triangular peduncle, together 25-50(-90) cm long, with 2-6 whorls of 3 flowers, 1-3 lower whorls female and often laterally branched, other flowers male; pedicel up to 1.5 cm long; sepals and petals 3; petals white, suborbicular, 12-15 mm in diameter, unguiculate. Fruit a globular head, about 1 cm in diameter, consisting of numerous obovate achenes 3-5 mm × 1.5-3 mm, with a broad dorsal and ventral wing. In the wild, S. trifolia is of very local occurrence and quite rare in Malesia, up to 1000 m altitude. It is more common in cultivation, in swamps and wet-rice fields. Propagation is by planting tubers whole or as pieces. First harvesting can take place 6-7 months after planting. S. trifolia has long been considered as a subspecies or a variety of the widespread temperate European and Asian species S. sagittifolia L., which has white petals with a distinct purple or carmine basal spot, purplish anthers, and blunt basal leaf lobes.

Selected sources

3, 9, 13, 22, 30, 32, 40, 43, 51, 66, 68, 79, 81.


L.E. Groen, J.S. Siemonsma & P.C.M. Jansen