Hepatica Acutiloba OR...

Hepatica Acutiloba OR...

Hepatica Acutiloba

One of the earliest woodland wildflowers, Hepatica acutiloba (Sharp-Lobed Liverleaf) is a clump-forming, semi-evergreen perennial producing adorable bowl-shaped flowers, 1 in. across (2.5 cm), in early spring. Usually white, the blossoms may also be pale pink or pale lavender-purple. Rich in nectar, they are an important early source for many pollinators. The flowers close at night and on cloudy days when pollinators are unlikely to be flying. Borne atop erect hairy stems, the charming blossoms appear before the new foliage. After the flowers fade, the leaves take over. Handsome, up to 3 in. long (8 cm), they are divided into three sharply pointed lobes. They warm up to shades of russet red and deep purple in the fall and provide year round interest in the shade garden where evergreen. As the first spring ephemeral to bloom, Hepatica acutiloba is a jewel in the stark landscape. Low maintenance, it is best grown in places where it can remain undisturbed for years.


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.

Hepatica can be identified by the distinctive, mottled leaves which turn a crimson color in the fall. In late winter, the bright red color of last year's leaves are a good indication of where the new blooms will appear come spring. The appearance of the leaves has inspired another common name, "Liverleaf." The name references the perceived similarity of the leaf shape to the human liver. Ancient herbalists believed in the "Doctrine of Signatures," the idea that the cures to medical ailments could be found in the plants that resembled the diseased human body part. Hepatica was creatively imagined to be shaped like a liver, and as such, it was historically used to treat ailments of the liver. Like many plants believed to have medicinal qualities, Hepatica was almost over-harvested to the brink of extinction. Modern medical science has shown Hepatica to have no medical efficacy, and the Doctrine of Signatures has also since been proven to be pseudoscience. (Source: www.prairiemoon.com)



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