Hepatica acutiloba DC.

Sharp-Lobed Hepatica

Hepatica acutiloba plant

Family - Ranunculaceae

Habit - Rhizomatous perennial forb.

Stems - Scapose, 8-17 cm long, unbranched, usually densely hairy.

Hepatica_acutiloba_stems.jpgStems.

Leaves - Basal leaves 2-12, usually darkened to maroon or dark purple at flowering, sometimes absent, long-petiolate, densely long-pilose beneath when young but becoming glabrate with age, 3-lobed for 60-80% of their length, the lobes 27-40 mm wide, entire, bluntly to sharply pointed at the tip.

Hepatica_acutiloba_leaves.jpgLeaves.

Hepatica_acutiloba_leaves2.jpg

Inflorescence - Flowers solitary on stems, each subtended by 3 involucral bracts, these sessile, lanceolate to ovate, bluntly pointed to rounded at the tip, densely hairy, the margins entire.

Hepatica_acutiloba_bracts.jpgBracts.

Flowers - Actinomorphic, perfect. Sepals petaloid, 5 to 8, 7-16 mm long, white, pink, or pale blue, deciduous. Petals absent. Head of fruits 5-6 mm long, 9-11 mm in diameter, hemispherical.

Hepatica_acutiloba_flower1.jpgFlowers.

Hepatica_acutiloba_flower2.jpg

Hepatica_acutiloba_flower3.jpg

Hepatica_acutiloba_styles.jpgStamens and styles.

Fruits - Achenes, elliptic in outline, sparsely to moderately pubescent with straight hairs not concealing the surface, the beak 0.5-1.0 mm long, brittle and often broken off. Receptacle not enlarged at fruiting.

Hepatica_acutiloba_fruits2.jpgFruits.

Hepatica_acutiloba_fruits.jpg

Flowering - February - April.

Habitat - Forests, north-facing slopes, rock outcrops, shaded ledges, usually on calcareous substrate.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - H. americana.

Other info. - This beautiful springtime ephemeral wildflower is found mostly in the eastern half of Missouri. Its range in the continental U.S. comprises a triangular area stretching from mid-Minnesota on the northwest, to southern Alabama on the south, to Maine on the northeast. In Missouri it is not particularly common, being found only in relatively undisturbed, rich, shaded forests and bluffs.

The plant is easily recognized by its leaves and delicate flowers. The flower "petals" are actually sepals (petals are not present in this species), and are easily dislodged from the flower. The sepal color ranges from mid-blue, though pastel shades of blue or pink, to white, and some of this variation is shown in the images above. Multiple color variants and subtle shading can usually be found within the same population. Capturing these shades photographically can be challenging, and wide exposure bracketing is advisable.

In Missouri, a very similar and somewhat less common species is H. americana, which is distinguished by its broadly rounded (rather than pointed) leaf lobes.

Synonyms for this species are Hepatica nobilis var. acuta (Pursh) Steyerm., and Anemone acutiloba (DC.) H. Hara.

Photographs taken at St. Francois State Park, St. Francois County, MO, 3-23-2105 and 3-28-2016, Little Lost Creek Conservation Area, Warren County, MO, 4-1-2015, 3-26-2016, and 4-1-2017, and Washington State Park, Washington County, MO, 4-15-2019 (SRTurner).



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