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February Wildflower Spotlight: 
Heartleaf Hexastylis

Heartleaf Hexastylis

In the Aristolochiaceae, Heartleaf has dark green leaves that are heart-shaped, evergreen and leathery. The flowers are jug shaped and usually range from beige to dark brown and sometimes they are greenish or purplish. Thus the nickname “little brown jugs”. Heartleaf grows in acidic, sandy loam soils along bluffs and slopes, in boggy areas adjacent to creek heads and streams. Provided the soil type is right, the plant can survive in either dry or moderately moist habitat. For maximum flowering, the plant needs sunlight in early spring. 

Thrips (sucking insects) and flies are major pollinators of Heartleaf plants. With most Hexastylis species the vectors, flies and thrips spend most of their lives in the plant’s flower tissues and feed on pollen grains or on portions of the plant’s outer skin. Once the flowers have been fertilized, their seeds are distributed by ants. The ants eat the seeds’ coatings and leave the seeds near the plant site. Seed germination takes place in the spring after the seeds have been exposed to cool temperatures. The plant’s flowering period is mid-February to early June; fruit production begins in mid to late May and buds come in late July and develop by October. 

Previous Spotlights:

January Witchhazel
October: Closed Gentian
September:   Goldenrod
August:   Joe Pye Weed
July:    Cardinal Flower
June:   Rosebay Rhododendron