Botanical stardom for the somewhat obscure Katniss plant may be waiting in backyard ponds worldwide, because of its connection to the Hunger Games trilogy of novels by Suzanne Collins. Katniss is a graceful water plant better known as "arrowhead" due to its leaf shape and "Indian potato" because of its edible roots. Its Latin name Sagittaria means "of the arrow."
Katniss Everdeen, the teenage heroine in the Hunger Games series, is named after the plant. She is a skilled hunter-gatherer in a brutal future world, whose skill at archery shapes the story. As fans await the 2012 release of a movie adaptation, their websites are including stories about the delicate looking yet hardy Katniss plant.
The starchy tubers of Katniss were once a staple food of Native Americans, especially Northwest tribes. They dug up the plant with their toes while wading in marshy areas, according to an Oregon State University website concerning the plant’s food value. Katniss has a long history of cultivation in Asia. Its tubers have the taste and texture of sweet potato when cooked.
There are about 30 species of Sagittaria found worldwide with most grown in the tropics. Sagittaria sagitifolia is a northern species that thrives in standing or slow-moving water up to about 20 inches deep. Katniss is adaptable, much like the character in Collins' novels. It can withstand temperatures as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit (U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone 7) and can thrive in sandy, loamy or heavy clay soils that are either acid or alkaline. But it requires lots of sunlight.