DISCLAIMER: ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHEN IDENTIFYING PLANTS. USE YOUR FIELD GUIDES AND LEARN YOUR LATIN NAMES. WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND AN EXPERT. NO ARTICLE IN THIS SERIES IS INTENDED TO GIVE MEDICAL OR ANY OTHER ADVICE IN THE HEALING ARTS OTHER THAN THAT OF A LAY PERSON.
Time to get your feet a little wet. If you live near a shallow wetland, marsh, or even a soupy suburb with a good amount of juxtaposition with wet ponds, you may have seen this little fella. The Broadleaf Arrowhead, or Duck Potato is a good friend to the hungry forager. Looking suave and pronounced, this plant has some heavy history here as a food stuff, medicinal remedy, and a bit of a folk lore as far as magickal usage.
First, you may have noticed that this plant is known as a duck potato. No, ducks do not toss it around after it gets hot in the sunshine as a game. It is not that kind of potato. But it IS wild food.
But be careful. Looking for this food to eat could lead to you being food to eat. What I mean is, where there is water, there could be leeches. So be careful before you just go wading into the wetlands. I am drawn to this plant due to my Creek heritage making this a plant my ancestors probably ate. (No, I do not have a Tribal Enrollment. No, I am not trying to appropriate anything. My Grandmother is 100 yrs old, and if she says we are Creek, we are Creek. We have been Creek since slavery times according to our records.)
This plant produces a tuber that can be roasted and eaten. It is a perennial, so once you find a patch, you can balance your harvesting so that you can come back and get more next year. You can find it in Michigan and all the way down through Mississippi. Gosh, you can find it almost everywhere, actually.
Did you know you could actually dry it and grind it up to use like a flour? Hmm. I wonder how that would taste, and would a duck eat a duck potato pancake? Sounds like a children’s story to me. I found that out from Mount Pisgah Arboretum.
IT IS VITAL THAT YOU MAKE SURE YOU IDENTIFY THIS PLANT PROPERTY. MICHIGAN WETLAND PLANT MISTAKES CAN BE DEADLY. DO NOT MISTAKE ARUM FOR THIS PLANT. USE A GOOD GUIDE, LIKE AT THE USDA NRCS.
For our healers, this plant can be a storehouse of use. It has a long, respected application on this continent. In Curious By Nature’s entry, they share that various uses by different nations such as the Maidu, the Chippewa, Navajo, and Ojibwa. It has been used for topical treatment for fever, as well as an antiseptic and laxative. As always, though, get some education from a bonified practitioner of the herbal arts before just heading off and setting up shop as a duck potato expert. I WILL drag you for filth (that means I will talk harshly about you with great contempt).
Now, let’s talk about the murky part. No, not the water. I mean the legends behind its usage in magicks and mysteries. I cannot verify or really push the legends that this plant is a defense against witches. I cannot really verify it is used to make a witch by drinking its tea in conjure or in indigenous societies. Why? Because I have no one to verify this. I am just presenting that this is part of its folklore. I am not going to just run around talking out of the side of my neck like a twisted duck.
BUT, I will say this. I have been told unofficially that this may be true regarding its use in ceremonial rites. I cannot prove it. Do your own research and ask around. Don’t just repeat what I say. You could be quaking up the wrong pond.
Here is a song about duck hunting. Because I married a hunter, that’s why, and it is about ducks.
Dallas Davidson – Duck Blind