The heartleaf (Hexastylis virginicum) has other popular names as listed in various wildflower manuals. Coltsfoot and southern wild ginger are popular local names. In 1940 an elderly lady living in a rural setting within Pittsylvania County called the flowers of this plant “little-brown-jugs.”
In recollecting sites that I have observed, the heartleaf seems confined to loamy soils on cooler, north-facing woodland slopes. In April and May the brownish-purple flowers may be seen lying on the ground or beneath the dead leaves of forest litter. This perennial herb with its thick, mottled, heart-shaped leaves is often noticeable as we hike through the woods during winter months.
Another closely-related plant (Asarum canadense) is also known as “wild ginger” and is found in the north and north-west foothills of Pittsylvania County. The southern wild ginger and the wild ginger are distinctly different in appearance.
Copyright © 2004 William T. Hathaway.