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Hepatica americana

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HepaticaYet another of the early spring wildflowers with white flowers, composed of sepals rather than petals (see above). There used to be twow names/species - H. americana and H. acutiloba, depending on the shape of the leaves (round or pointed). In the last few years they got "lumped" into H. americana. All have white flowers with a pinkish or bluish tinge. You can tell Hepatica from other spring white flowers easily because the blooms (and the leaves) are on their own stalks springing directly from the center of the plant, the flower stalks are covered in fine hairs, and the leaves are distinctly leathery. You may even see the flowers open before the leaves have had a chance to unroll. The three-lobed leaves, plus their leathery appearace and texture, gave rise to both the common name of Liverleaf and the scientific name of Hepatica, which means liver-like in Latin. The leaves will persist throughout the winter, then die back shortly before it flowers. New leaves begin growing as soon as the flowers are up.

Here's a picture of what it looks like when first emerging - notice there are no leaves yet, and a close-up of the flower:

Hepatica, earlyHepatica Closeup

A note on the nomenclature (naming conventions) on this site: Scientific names and classifications are constantly being argued and changed, and it drives me nuts. Although I use many different sources for knowledge, for naming consistency  I  use the  "Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas" by Radford, Ahles and Bell, 1968 edition. This book is a well-established authority for the plants of our region and I've been using it for years. If for some reason I must use a different source for a particular plant, I will make note of it within the descriptive text. Don't like it? Tough!

Fiona Dudley
986 Reems Creek Road
Weaverville NC 28787


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