Bunched Arrowhead

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Bunched Arrowhead

Sagittaria fasciculata

ListedJuly 25, 1979
FamilyAlismataceae (Water-plantain)
DescriptionAquatic herb with spatula-shaped leaves and white flowers.
HabitatSeepage bogs on gentle slopes.
ThreatsLoss of wetlands.
RangeNorth Carolina, South Carolina


Bunched arrowhead, Sagittaria fasciculata, is an herbaceous aquatic plant, growing to 16 in (40 cm) in height. Large (12 in, or 30 cm) spatula-shaped leaves emerge from water. White-petaled flowers bloom from mid-May to July, and seeds mature a few weeks later. Bunched arrowhead is characterized by its broadly winged seed capsules (achenes) and small stamens. It is the only Sagittaria species in the southern Appalachians that does not have the typical arrowhead-shaped leaves of the genus.


Bunched arrowhead sites are found at the fringes of slow, continuous seeps in saturated soil, generally on gentle slopes in deciduous woodlands. These seeps are underlain by clay and may be associated with a linear fault that extends through four northwestern South Carolina counties.

This habitat type has become increasingly rare. Other rare species that were associated with bunched arrowheadbog asphodel, sweet gale, linear pipewort, and many orchidshave disappeared from the region completely.


The North Carolina range of the bunched arrowhead included Henderson and Buncombe Counties. Historic collections were made from seven sites in the French Broad River Valley, south of East Flat Rock and north to Asheville.

In South Carolina, bunched arrowhead was known from along the Enoree River, Reedy Creek, the Tyger River, and Beaverdam Creekall in Greenville County.

Until 1990, only one North Carolina population was known to survive, in Henderson County, south of Hendersonville, growing in a seepage area in the French Broad River Valley of the Blue Ridge Mountain Province. In 1990, a second Henderson County bunched arrowhead site was discovered by biologists from the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Asheville Field Office and a North Carolina Natural Heritage Program contractor. All of the known South Carolina populations are still surviving, albeit in reduced numbers.


The Hendersonville and East Flat Rock area in North Carolina once contained numerous bogs and seepages that supported many rare plant species. Because of extensive conversion of wetlands to agricultural uses, little remains of these habitats today. Bunched arrowhead and associated rare species have declined as a result. The expanding human population of Henderson and Buncombe Counties threatens remaining bogs.

Conservation and Recovery

The surviving North Carolina population grows on a railroad right-of-way owned by the Southern Railway Company and along an adjacent spur line owned by the General Electric Company. In 1981 the Nature Conservancy and the Southern Railway Company signed a cooperative management agreement in an effort to protect this population. This agreement allows a management team to oversee right-of-way maintenance and to explore ways to enhance the habitat. Transplantation programs have been initiated. Currently, a nursery population is thriving at the North Carolina Botanical Garden at Chapel Hill.

In South Carolina, agricultural and residential development threatens the bunched arrowhead sites. The South Carolina Heritage Trust has initiated a program to seek agreements with landowners to protect bunched arrowhead on their property. This program encourages land owners to register their colonies and work with Heritage Trust consultants to maintain and preserve plants. The program has, to date, been a modest success. One registry with Furman University succeeded in preserving a colony in the Reedy River drainage. The Heritage Trust also plans to purchase portions of the Enoree River and the Beaverdam Creek-Tyger River sites.

The vigorous efforts of state and local conservation groups and the cooperation of private citizens virtually ensures that some of the best habitat areas will be protected.


Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1875 Century Blvd., Suite 200
Atlanta, Georgia 30345


Beal, E. O. 1960. "The Alismataceae of the Carolinas." Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Science Society 76:68-79.

Rayner, D. A. 1979. Native Vascular Plants Endangered, Threatened, or Otherwise in Jeopardy in South Carolina; Museum Bulletin No. 4. South Carolina Museum Commission, Columbia.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1979. "Determination of Bunched Arrowhead, Sagittaria fasciculata, as an Endangered Species." Federal Register 44:37132.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1983. "Bunched Arrowhead Recovery Plan." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta.