Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower - Liverleaf

Liverleaf is one of TPP's favorite early spring woodland wildflowers.  Interestingly enough the common name liverleaf, and it's genus, Hepatica, derive from the similarity between the plant's three-lobed leaf (H. acutifolia), which is a dark reddish-purple color in the early spring having persisted from the previous season, and a liver. One of such leaf appears just below the flowering stalks at the lower left.  Such associations were actively sought based on a traditional medicine belief system of "likes cure likes".  They don't, but the names have persisted as a relict of that era. This is a fairly easy, trouble-free wild flower to cultivate if you have the right location. In nature the plant is usually found just at the top shoulder and down a slope, often near the base of trees. In TPP's experience the plant doesn't like being buried in leaf litter. In a garden lacking a slope, they grow best at the base of large trees especially between roots. In a garden lacking large trees and slopes, a rock garden would work in a shady area.  The flower color is generally white to lavender, but sometimes you can find a very pink flowered plant. The flowers pop up quickly in the very early spring and are then followed by new trilobed leaves.


Jason said...

Beautiful flower but terrible name. You'd think someone would have come up with a more appealing common name.

Anonymous said...

What a pleasure it always was to find this spring flower in bloom, often in large patches that ran the range of colors - just one of many flowers that I haven't seen since leaving the long-uncut woodlands of our Southern Tier farm. And we did call them Hepatica, a rather pretty name to my ears. Thanks for the reminder.