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Shortbeak Arrowhead (Sagittaria brevirostra)

Life history

Species overview

Shortbeak Arrowhead (Sagittaria brevirostra), a plant, is found in shallow, muddy ponds and swamps. Blooming occurs June through July; fruiting occurs July to mid-October. The optimal identification period for this species is July to mid-October.



  • Distinguishing characteristics: Most likely to be confused with Sagittaria cuneata (Northern Arrowhead), which has achenes without wings. The best time to differentiate between species is when the seed heads reach maturity.
  • Flower characteristics: White, 3 parted flowers 1 to 3 cm wide in an inflorescence of 5 to 12 whorls, with the lowest whorl often branched, on 1.3 to 2.5 cm pedicels, with papery-firm bracts.
  • Fruit characteristics: Achenes are 2 to 3 mm long and often have a short wing on one or both faces that doesn't extend to the beak.
  • Leaf characteristics: Main portion of the blade mostly laceolate, 5 to 20 cm by 2 to 8 cm. In a cross section, lower portion of the petiole will be corrugated.


  • Blooming phenology: June through July
  • Fruiting phenology: July to mid-October
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is July to mid-October


  • Growth form: Herb, emergent aquatic
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments:

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

Shortbeak Arrowhead (Sagittaria brevirostra) is on the "watch list." Watch list species have experienced, or are believed to have experienced, a statewide or range wide decline, but they are not currently tracked in the Natural Heritage Inventory (NHI) database. The watch list includes newly discovered species for which origin and rarity need to be determined, certain animals designated as Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in the Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan, and species that were tracked in the past but proved more abundant, widespread or less vulnerable than previously thought. Although watch list species are not actively tracked by NHI, occurrences documented during surveys are often stored by NHI, as these species could be tracked in the future if there is further evidence of their decline.

Summary Information
State Statusnone
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankSU
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIW

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in shallow, muddy ponds and swamps.
  • Soils:

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Shortbeak Arrowhead. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Shortbeak Arrowhead. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • No avoidance measures have been developed for this species.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • No guidance has been developed for this species.


Shortbeak Arrowhead Photo.

Photo © Paul L. Redfearn Jr..

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
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