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Little Brown Jug, Arrowleaf Ginger - Hexastylis arifolia


Family: Aristolochiaceae - Birthwort family Genus Common Name: Heartleaf Native Status: NativeDicot Perennial Herb
Hexastylis arifolia - Little Brown Jug, Arrowleaf Ginger. There are three North American genera in the Birthwort family (Aristolochiaceae) - Aristolochia (Dutchman’s Pipe), Asarum (Wild Ginger), and Hexastylis (Heartleaf, sometimes also called Wild Ginger.) Ten of the Aristolochiaceae species are in Hexastylis; all these are native to North America, primarily in the southeastern part of the United States. Some authorities include the Hexastylis species within the Asarum genus instead of maintaining separation. The Hexastylis genus gets its name from the six styles in the flower. Most of the differences between species have to do with the shape of the calyx tube and features of the calyx lobes and interior of the calyx.

Hexastylis arifolia, the most widespread species in the genus, is of the southeastern United States, being found from Kentucky and Virginia south to the Gulf coast states east of the Mississippi River, including eastern Louisiana. It is protected as Threatened in Florida. There are three generally recognized varieties - var. arifolia, var. callifollia, and var. ruthii with variations of the calyx tube and lobes used to differentiate.

Found in:
AL, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA

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Hexastylis arifolia

Distribution of Hexastylis arifolia in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 16 Dec 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Lula Lake, Walker County, Ga Date: 2014-June-07Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The calyx of the petal-less flowers of Hexastylis arifolia are urn-shaped and are usually brown or purplish-brown, providing the common name Little Brown Jug.
Hexastylis arifolia

Site: Lula Lake, Walker County, Ga Date: 2014-June-07Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Hexastylis arifolia is a relatively short plant - up to about a foot high - with no above-ground stem. The leaves are distinctive and are evergreen, so the plant is easy to find, but the flower is on the ground under the leaf, so it may be easy to miss. The leaves arise from the rhizomatic stem in pairs. It could make a nice groundcover.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Hexastylis arifolia

Site: Lula Lake, Walker County, Ga Date: 2014-June-07Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
The arrowhead-shaped leaves are sometimes mottled or may be entirely dark green.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Hexastylis arifolia

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer