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Hexastylis arifolia (Little brown jug)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Hexastylis arifolia

Hexastylis arifolia (Michx.) Small

Little Brown Jug, Heartleaf, Evergreen Wild Ginger

Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort Family)


USDA Symbol: HEAR6

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

The attractive, heart-shaped leaves of this wild ginger are pale, whitish green with dark green veins and margins, the opposite of its close relative, Hexastylis shuttleworthii, which has dark green leaves and whitish green venation. The leaves are up to 8 inches long and held no more than 4 inches off the ground. The common name Heartleaf refers to their shape, while the common name Little brown jug refers to the unusual flowers. The plants are slow-growing and remain in isolated clusters, not forming a mat. They make beautiful, jewel-like additions to the Southeastern woodland garden when scattered among other well-mannered, herb layer forest plants.


From the Image Gallery

6 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Cordate
Leaf Margin: Entire
Leaf Texture: Smooth
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: 2 to 4 inches high
Leaf: Whitish green with dark green veins and margins

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Purple , Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
Bloom Notes: Purplish brown, inconspicuous


USA: AL , FL , GA , KY , LA , MS , NC , SC , TN , VA
Native Distribution: Southeastern North America, Zones 6 to 8
Native Habitat: Southeastern forests, dry to moist

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low , Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Rich, acidic, moist or dry soils of pH 5 to 6


Use Ornamental: A good evergreen herb-layer plant for foliage interest in the Southeastern shade garden or woodland landscape.
Use Wildlife: Winter browse
Use Food: Roots used as flavoring by indigenous people.
Use Medicinal: Root extracts and leaf infusions used by indigenous people to treat heart and lung conditions and stomach pain.
Interesting Foliage: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

Status: FAC FAC
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 1232 - Native American Ethnobotany (1998) Moerman, Daniel E.

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Additional resources

USDA: Find Hexastylis arifolia in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Hexastylis arifolia in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Hexastylis arifolia


Record Modified: 2014-04-28
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