Wild Ginger, Little Brown Jug, “Piggies”
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.