Arrow-Head, Common, "the Sagittaria sagittifolia, L. is one of those neglected plants, which, though growing wild in many parts of England, especially on the banks of rivers, are not converted to any useful purpose : it is represented in Pl. 7.. English Botany, p. S4.
The root of the arrow-head is composed of numerous strong fibres, which strike into the mud; the foot stalks of the leaves are of a length proportionate to the depth of the water in which they grow; they are thick, fungous, and sometimes three feet high. Its sharp pointed leaves resemble the point of an arrow, and float upon the water. At the lower extremity of the root, there is always, even in its wild state, a bulb which grows in the solid clay, beneath the muddy stratum.
This esculent root is industriously cultivated in China and America, where it attains to the size of several inches in diameter ; while, in this country, of which it is a native, we suffer it to undergo spontaneous dissolution. As it constitutes a considerable part of the Chinese diet, no reason can be alledged, why it should not be re-sorted to in times of scarcity, when a poor cottager, in some parts of the country, might in one day, With has family, collect, a sufficient quantity of these nourishing and palatable roots, to serve them for a fortnight, as excellent substitutes for bread. With respect to the manner of dressing and preparing such vegetables, we shall give the necessary directions under the article Bread.
The arrow-head requires a low, cold, marshy situation, and a clayey soil, where scarcely any other plant would thrive. Here it grows luxuriantly, and produces an oblong, thick, bulbous root, which, from its mealy nature, may be easily converted into starch, or flour. Even in its raw and unprepared state, it affords a proper and wholesome, food for Lor goats and hogs; though cows do not relish it. There are two methods of propagating this beneficial plant; either by the wild-growing fibres of the root, or by the seed ; and we earnestly recommend its culture, from a conviction of its great utility. In the present alarming crisis, we also venture to suggest the propriety and expediency of inducing the industrious poor to collect this and similar plentiful roots, and after washing, macerating them, and expressing their starch, to mix it with other ingredients, in the making of bread. If persuasion and reasoning do not avail, small premiums or rewards might be offered, to accomplish so desirable a purpose.