Appearance: The shells are dark brown, almost oval in shape, averaging 2-3 inches in length. The outer surface of the shell often flakes off, revealing a rough lighter-colored shell material underneath. They are typically sold live.
Typical Range: Freshwater mussel native to U.S., ranging from the southeastern U.S. to Canada. They are commonly found in North Carolina. Elliptio prefers streams and rivers to impounded waters.
Public Health Significance: As a freshwater species this shellfish is NOT approved for harvesting for human consumption. Because their habitat is in unapproved waters, there will typically not be a shellfish dealers tag associated with the product. These shellfish have been found in a restaurant in North Carolina, reportedly via seafood markets in New York City.
As a native freshwater shellfish, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission restricts any taking of these shellfish from flowing waters.