Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Sandhills Heartleaf - Hexastylis sorriei   L.L. Gaddy
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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AuthorL.L. Gaddy
DistributionRestricted to the Sandhills region, found in all counties containing Sandhills vegetation, extending into Robeson County, just east of this region.

This is a narrow Sandhills endemic, known only from south-central NC and adjacent SC (about 3 counties).
AbundanceInfrequent, but widespread in the Sandhills; certainly not a rare species within its 8-county region. Not nearly as rare as the S1S2 State Rank assigned by the NCNHP; the website authors, one of whom (B. Sorrie) knows the species better than anyone else and for whom the species is named, suggest that S3 is a more appropriate rank. As a result, the editors propose the Global Rank to also be G3.
HabitatThis is a characteristic herbaceous species of streamhead pocosins (mainly around the ecotones), and it also occurs in sandhill seeps and near the streams within the pocosins. It frequently grows with Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum) and sphagnum moss, and may also grow in the same places as Sweet Pitcherplant (Sarracenia rubra), according to Weakley (2018).
See also Habitat Account for Coastal Plain Herbaceous Peatlands
PhenologyBlooms in March and April, and fruits shortly after blooming.
IdentificationThis species had previously been identified as either Hexastylis minor or H. virginica, prior to being described in 2011. Biologists felt that these two species, especially H. minor, seemed out of character and habitat in its sandy and relatively flat, blackwater habitat of pocosin margins, instead of rocky bluffs and slopes in the Piedmont. Thankfully, this new species description seems to end this confusion and mystery. This new species has similar round, glossy, green to dark green, and evergreen leaves as nearly all others in the genus, with the leaves about 3 across across and wide and with a cordate base. However, this species has only a light green mottling along the veins (or occasionally unmottled), typically less striking than the white veining pattern found on most leaves of these other two species. Otherwise, the flowers resemble H. minor -- brown on the outside of the calyx cup, and with spreading lobes. However, H. sorriei has these lobes only 1/5-inch long, much shorter than those of H. minor, and the calyx tube/cup is usually about 1/2-inch long or high, as opposed to about 2/3-inch in H. minor. These flower characters are rather slight, but the distinctly different habitats -- H. minor is essentially limited to the Piedmont and found on rocky or often dry slopes, as opposed to semi-wetland habitats in the Sandhills -- should separate the two. Leaf coloration should also be helpful, as well, but always use this with caution, and it is a good idea to see a number of plants or several populations to be reasonably sure of the identification. Thankfully, for people attempting to see this localized plant, there is much public land on the Sandhills Game Land and at Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve to walk the outside of streamheads and look for this species.
Taxonomic CommentsAs mentioned above, this species was only described in 2011. Apparently all more recent references and websites do consider this as a valid species.

Other Common Name(s)Streamhead Heartleaf
State RankS1S2 [S3]
Global RankG1G2 [G3]
State Status[W1]
US Status
USACE-agcpFACW link
USACE-empFACW link
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