Q: As a kid, we would hunt what we called “piggies” in the woods. As I
remember, the leaves were sort of heart-shaped and when we found them we
would bend away the leaves so the little piggies could be seen.
A: What a delightful memory! The plant you were looking for is commonly
called little brown jug or heartleaf ginger, Hexastylis arifolia. The flowers
hidden under the leaves resemble small, open-mouthed pigs or perhaps
amphorae that the Romans used to carry wine. The heart-shaped leaves have
dark green veins and leaf edges. Its close cousin, largeflower heartleaf,
Hexastylis shuttleworthii, has whitish veins and leaf edges. The flowers are
pollinated by ground-dwelling insects. Their color ranges from light green in
the spring to maroon or brown in fall.