Classification: Federal and State Endangered
NOTE: Hover over the bold words for definitions or see the Glossary.
This species was originally decribed as Unio decoratus by Isaac Lea in 1852. The Carolina heelsplitter is a medium-sized mussel that has an ovate, trapezoid-shaped shell. The largest known specimen of the species measures 114.8 millimeters in length. The shell is yellowish, greenish brown to dark brown in color and younger specimens have greenish brown or black rays. The nacre is pearly white to bluish-white, grading to orange in the area of the umbo. In older specimens, the entire nacre may be a mottled pale orange. The lateral teeth are well developed but thin and rather delicate. The left valve has two blade-like pseudocardinal teeth and the right valve has one. The left valve may also have an interdental projection.
General Life History For Mussels