(Photo by J. Molter, Bureau of Land Management)
Sanford’s Arrowhead (Sagittaria sanfordii) is an aquatic flowering plant endemic to California. It is a member of the plantain family (Plantaginaceae). Its long, narrow leaves typically grow from a submerged stem. This species is monoecious which means it produces both male and female flowers. These flowers have green centers, white petals, and are arranged in whorls which rise above the water’s surface.
This plant has a patchy distribution along California’s coast and in the Central Valley. Much of its historic range has been destroyed as a result of human development.
Sanford’s arrowhead requires shallow freshwater to grow in. Marshes and swamps are considered to be the primary habitat type for this species.
The occurrence of highly disjunct populations of Sanford’s arrowhead may suggest that it has a high dispersal ability. It is possible that animal dispersers are involved in moving this plant around.
Sanford’s arrowhead has been heavily impacted by habitat destruction as the majority of wetlands and marshes in California have been destroyed.
Sanford’s Arrowhead at Stanford
This species was recently recorded for the first time on Stanford lands. A small group of individuals was found growing in a riparian zone. This represents its first known occurrence on the San Francisco peninsula.