Hunting for Hepatica

Today, I went on a hunt for Hepatica.  Sharp-lobed Hepatica Bud, Camp Timbercrest, April 6, 2008I don’t know why, but I desperately want to take a really good picture of Hepatica.  I thought today might be the day.  Last year, I found some blooming on March 31.  And today was a much prettier day than that… Sunny.  Warm.  Most of the snow is gone.  There’s a hill at Camp Timbercrest that is covered with the stuff.  Alas…  I found the bud you see at right.  And many leaves:


Sharp-lobed Hepatica Leaf, Camp Timbercrest, April 6, 2008


But no open blooms…

We have two kinds of Hepatica around here… Sharp-lobed (Hepatica acutiloba) and Round-lobed (Hepatica americana).  I have only found the Sharp-lobed variety so far.  Even my photo from last year in Chautauqua Gorge was Sharp-lobed:

Sharp-lobed Hepatica, Chautauqua Gorge, March 31, 2007


Both varieties are found in the east part of the continent.  sharp-lobed hepatica range mapRound-lobed is found in a couple more states than Sharp-lobed, whose map this is.

The usefulness of this plant as a medicine for liver and kidney problems has been debated over the years.  In 1883, nearly half a million pounds of leaves were harvested for such medicine. Native Americans once used a tea made from hepatica to soothe coughs and irritated throats.  Today, the plant is known to have an astringent and a diuretic effect.   (source)

According the Peterson Guide to Wildflowers, the Sharp-lobed variety can be white or pink and the Round-lobed can be white, pink, or violet-blue.  According to Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, the two can hybridize resulting in plants with leaves whose lobes are somewhere between sharp and round.

I want to find (and photograph) one as purple as the one Mon@rch found in 2003:

 Perhaps if I “put it out there,” my wish will come true!