Liverleaf (Round-Lobed Hepatica)

Anemone americana (formerly Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa)

liverleaf_flowers_12-29-13.jpg

Photo of liverleaf wildflower
Elmer Verhasselt, Bugwood.org
Family

Ranunculaceae (crowfoots, buttercups)

Description

Flowering stems extremely hairy. One of the earliest-flowering plants in spring. Flowers on leafless stems (scapes), which are silky-hairy with 5–12 petallike sepals, numerous stamens, one flower to a scape; white, pink, and shades of blue and lavender. Blooms March–April. Leaves basal, on long, hairy stems, deeply 3-lobed with a heart-shaped base, the lobes rounded. Light green at first, later turning leathery in beautiful shades of wine-red and brown and remaining so through the winter, surrounding the newly appearing leaves in spring.

Similar species: Sharp-lobed hepatica (A. acutiloba, formerly Hepatica nobilis var. acuta), is similar except that the 3 lobes of the leaves are sharp-pointed, not rounded. It is found primarily in the eastern half and southern two-thirds of Missouri.

Size

Height: to about 6 inches.

Liverleaf (Round-Lobed Hepatica)

Liverleaf (Round-Lobed Hepatica)
Liverleaf (Round-Lobed Hepatica)
Liverleaf (Round-Lobed Hepatica) at Cooper Hill CA
Habitat and conservation

Occurs on rich or rock, steep, wooded slopes, usually facing north or east, mossy ledges, and ravine bottoms, often in acid soils.

image of Liverleaf Round-Lobed Hepatica distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

Primarily in the Ozark region, south of the Missouri River. Absent from western third of state.

Human connections

An ancient theory called the "doctrine of signatures" held that a plant's resemblance to a part of the body was a "sign" that it could be used to treat diseases of that organ. This plant, with its lobed, liver-colored leaves, resembled a liver and therefore was used to treat liver problems.

Ecosystem connections

Bees and flies are the primary pollinators. Because the leaves commonly survive well into winter, apparently not many animals eat them.