Raleigh Ecological Services Field Office
Conserving the Nature of America

Dwarf-flowered Heartleaf (Hexastylis naniflora)

Dwarf-flowered Heartleaf. Credit: USFWS

Dwarf-flowered Heartleaf. Credit: USFWS

Family: Birthwort (Aristolochiaceae)

Federal Status: Threatened, listed April 14, 1989

Best Search Time: March through May

Description: Dwarf-flowered heartleaf is a low-growing evergreen perennial plant. It has heart-shape leaves that are 4 -5 inches (10.2 – 12.7 centimeters) long, dark green and leathery, supported by long thin leaf stems connecting it to an underground stem. The jug-shaped flowers are usually beige to dark brown or purple and appear from mid-March to early June. The flowers are small and inconspicuous and are found near the base of the leaf stems, often buried beneath the leaf litter.

Habitat: Dwarf-flowered heartleaf grows in acidic soils along bluffs and adjacent slopes, in boggy areas next to streams and creek heads, and along the slopes of nearby hillsides and ravines.

map of Dwarf-flowered Heartleaf distribution in North Carolina

Map of Dwarf-flowered Heartleaf distribution in North Carolina.

Distribution: Dwarf-flowered heartleaf is found in the upper piedmont region of Western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina.

Threats: The greatest threat to dwarf-flowered heartleaf is conversion of habitat to agricultural, residential, commercial, and industrial uses. Habitat may also be eliminated through the construction of reservoirs, which floods habitat.


Buchanan, M.F. and J.T. Finnegan. 2010. Natural Heritage Program List of the Rare Plant Species of North Carolina. N.C. Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh, NC.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1983. Bunched Arrowhead Recovery Plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta, GA. 37 pp.

For More Information on Dwarf-flowered Heartleaf...

Species Contact:

Mara Alexander, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, 828-258-3939 ext. 238

Species profile revised on September 15, 2011.

Last Updated: August 6, 2015