Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Large-flower Heartleaf - Hexastylis shuttleworthii   (Britton & Baker fils) Small
Members of Aristolochiaceae:
Members of Hexastylis with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 4 » Order Aristolochiales » Family Aristolochiaceae
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Author(Britton & Baker fils) Small
DistributionEssentially throughout the Mountains and the extreme southwestern Piedmont (in foothills ranges), though possibly absent in the extreme northern Mountains.

This is a broadly Southern Appalachian endemic, ranging north to the northern mountains of NC and TN, and ranging south to central GA and central AL.
AbundanceGenerally common in its NC range, north to Watauga County. This is the most numerous and widespread of the montane species of round-leaved Hexastylis species (i.e., other than the arrowhead-leaved H. arifolia and H. ruthii). Seemingly less numerous in the extreme southwestern counties.
HabitatThis is a characteristic species of the Acidic Cove Forest natural community, being widespread in the acidic soils near Rosebay Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum) on ravine slopes, near creek banks, and other mostly sloping ground. The canopy can be hardwoods or mixed hardwoods-conifers, and it usually is found in fairly moist to mesic sites.
PhenologyBlooms fairly late for a heartleaf, from May into July, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis heartleaf has the standard several rounded leaves growing from a common base, close to the ground. Each leaf averages 3 inches wide and long, with a cordate base; they are dark green with white or light green color along the veins, thick, glossy, and evergreen. The one to several flowers grow at the base of the plant, as with others in the genus, but this species has the largest flowers of all, being up to about 1.5 inches long, light brown on the outside of the calyx cup, which is rather urn-shaped, slightly wider in the middle than at the orifice. The three calyx lobes are broadly triangular and spreading, with white spotting on the purple color of the inside of the lobes; these lobes are typically more than 1 cm (2/5-inch) long, longer than in other montane and foothill species. Though other heartleafs are somewhat similar, this species can usually be identified by its quite large flower alone, typically well over 1 inch long. However, you cannot identify the species just by its leaves. If you spend much time hiking in the mountains where Rosebay Rhododendron grows, you should run into Hexastylis species quite often, and this may be the most common, depending on the location in the mountains and foothills where you are walking. However, unless you catch a heartleaf in bloom, you will seldom be able to conclusively identify them.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Shuttleworth's Ginger. The common name is often written as Largeflower Heartleaf.
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