Hepatica americana (DC.) Ker


Hepatica americana plant

Family - Ranunculaceae

Stems - No info. yet.

Leaves - No info. yet.

Hepatica americana leafLeaf in-situ.

Inflorescence - No info. yet.

Flowers - No info. yet.

Hepatica americana flowerMature flower.

Hepatica americana flowerImmature flower.

Hepatica americana calyxCalyx.

Flowering - March - April.

Habitat - Rich or rocky wooded slopes, ravines, mossy banks, ledges. Usually on acid soils.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This species can be found in the Ozark region of Missouri. The striking blue flowers are easily seen against the spring forest floor. This species would make an excellent rock garden subject if the proper growing conditions were present.
H. americana was used widely by natives and colonists to treat a variety of ailments. It was used most commonly as a leaf tea to treat liver disorders. This was thought to work because the plants leaves are shaped much like the human liver. This practice of treating organ ailments with the plants that most resembled them is known as the "doctrine of signatures." The practice originated in China and, fortunately, is no longer used.
Another species, H. acutiloba DC., is more common in Missouri, being found throughout the eastern half of the state. This species can be identified by the acute tips of it leaves and floral bracts.

Hepatica acutiloba plantH. acutiloba

Photographs taken at Umstead State Park, NC., 3-23-03, and in Linville, NC., 5-11-03.