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FutureStarrHow to Sow Tiny Flower Seeds
Hepaticas are among the first flowers to bloom in the spring. Sharp-lobed Hepatica and Round-lobed Hepatica have gone through a couple of name changes, at one time Hepatica acutiloba and H. americana respectively, and more recently considered different varieties of the same species, Hepatica nobilis var. acuta and var. obtusa respectively. Now they are different species again, in the Anemone genus, and closely related to the European species Anemone hepatica. The easiest way to differentiate Sharp-lobed from Round-lobed is—you guessed it—the round or pointed tips on leaves. The flowers are much the same and, while the tips of the bracts on Sharp-lobed may be more pointed than on Round-lobed, this can be subtle so is not necessarily a reliable distinction. Their ranges overlap significantly and may be found in the same habitat at the same time of year, though Round-lobed Hepatica may be found on drier sites in more acidic soils.
The native Sharp-Lobed Hepatica is occasional in wooded areas of central and northern Illinois; it is uncommon or absent in southern Illinois (see Distribution Map). Habitats include upland deciduous woodlands, rocky bluffs, the slopes of bluffs, and limestone cliffs (where some shade occurs). Sharp-Lobed Hepatica occurs in high quality wooded areas where the original flora is largely intact. Sometimes it is cultivated as a rock garden plant. While Sharp-Lobed Hepatica is native to North America, the typical variety of Hepatica, Hepatica nobilis nobilis, occurs in Eurasia.The flowers of Sharp-Lobed Hepatica bloom earlier than most spring-blooming wildflowers of woodlands. They are delicately attractive and have a tendency to blow about on their slender stems in the wind. Another native variety of this plant species is Hepatica nobilis obtusa (Round-Lobed Hepatica), which has a very similar appearance, except that the lobes of its basal leaves are well-rounded rather than pointed. This latter variety is apparently restricted to NE Illinois. Sometimes these two varieties intergrade where their ranges overlap. Some authorities refer to Sharp-Lobed Hepatica as Hepatica acutiloba, while Round-Lobed Hepatica is referred to as Hepatica americana. Another common name for Hepatica is Liverleaf, which refers to the appearance and shape of theleaves.
As the first spring ephemeral to bloom in the forest, Sharp-lobed Hepatica is a delightful sight after a long winter. John Burroughs, the famous 19th century American naturalist, once said, “There are many things left for May, but nothing fairer, if as fair, as the first flower, the hepatica... It is certainly the gem of the woods.” This petite little plant can be a variety of colors including white, pink and blue.Habitat: The Hepaticas of early spring can be found solitary or in large groups on Hepatica Hill in the Woodland Garden on the west path. Both plants grow from ascending to horizontal rhizomes. They do best in rich soils of upland woods that do not dry out until summer, but are moist until then and well drained, with sunlight in early spring followed by shade from an overhead tree canopy. Years of drought can wipe them out. The earliest known bloom date noted in the Garden was March 29th and the latest was April 27, 1944. (Source: www.friendsofthewildflowergarden.org)