Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Peltandra virginica (L.) Schott
ARACEAE (Arum Family)
EtymologyPeltandra means hidden or shielded stamen, from the Greek: pelte = shield + anos or ander = man; virginica is Latin for from or of Virginia, in reference to The Virgin Queen, Elizabeth 1 of England (1533-1603).
Synonyms (Common Name)Tuckahoe
DescriptionA common plant of shallow waters and marshes, Arrow Arumis an emergent, perennial herb. It is a stemless plant with arrow-shaped leaves and a pointed, spear-like sheath that encloses the flower spike.
Wetland indicator statusOBL
Plant Height1-3 feet
LeavesDeciduous, simple, entire, basal, long-stemmed, to 18" long; broadly triangular to arrow-shaped; rounded basal lobes; 3 prominent veins -- one at midrib and one at each lobe -- from which smaller veins branch; another vein runs along the entire leaf margin.
Flower/InflorescenceWhite (male flowers) above green (female flowers); tiny, clustered on a flesh-colored to greenish-white, long, slender spike (spadix); almost entirely enclosed by a long and narrow, green, pointed sheath (spathe).
Flowering PeriodMay-July
FruitBerries, brown or greenish-black, with 1-3 seeds, surrounded by a gelatinous material; in a somewhat round cluster; enclosed in a leathery, green seed pod that is formed by the lower part of the spathe; stalk curves downward.
Fruiting PeriodSeptember-November
HabitatDeciduous swamps, marshes, borders of ponds and sluggish streams; mud or shallow water.
RangeSouthern Maine to Michigan, south to Florida and Texas.
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Swamp Loosestrife (Decodon verticillatis)
Common Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia):
Pickerelweed (Pontedaria cordata)
Spatterdock (Nuphar variegata)
White Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata)
Similar Species
Common Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) can be distinguished from Arrow Arum by flower, fruit, and leaves. Arrowhead leaves have parallel veins that radiate from a single point, while Arrow Arum leaves have three prominent, branching veins and another vein along the leaf margin. The leaf lobes of Common Arrowhead are pointed; the lobes of Arrow Arum are rounded. The inflorescences of the two plants are very different: showy, 3-petalled white flowers for Arrowhead; a spear-like spathe and spadix for Arrow Arum. Arrowhead has potato-like tubers that are hidden under the mud; the leathery, green seed pods of Arrow Arum lie on the substrate.
Wild Calla (Calla palustris) has heart-shaped leaves, a large, flared, white spathe, and red berries.
Pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) has parallel-veined leaves with a heart-shaped base, and bluish-purple flowers on a terminal spike.
Seasonal Diagnostics
Spring: Leaf shoots emerge in shallow waters, unfurling into arrow-shaped leaves. Greenis-white, spear-like spadix appears May-July.
Summer: Seed pods begin to form on long stalks that curve beneath the leaves towards the mud.
Fall: Seed pods persist on the basin bottom and contain dark berries encased in gelatinous material; loose berries may float in the water column.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett