March 10th. The ‘last’ wildflower I was looking for at the Oconee Heritage Park (OHP) was the Round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa).
This species, H. nobilis, which has three-lobed leaves, has two varieties: H. nobilis var obtusa, the Round-lobed Hepatica, and H. nobilis var acuta, the Acute-lobed Hepatica. The Round-lobed Hepatica occurs in our area; the Acute-lobed Hepatica does not. As the scientific and common names imply, the leaves of the Round-lobed Hepatica have rounded lobes, and the leaves of the Acute-lobed Hepatica have pointed lobes.
Leaves of the Round-lobed Hepatica persist through winter. Thus, plants can be spotted, by their characteristic leaves, before they bloom in early spring.
Until visiting OHP, I had found plants in moist environments near creeks or seeps. In OHP, however, I’ve found plants growing high on hillsides and ridges. In each case, they were growing and at the base of a tree on its north side, whether on a north- or south-facing slope. I assume that these spots are shaded during the heat of the day, and retain moisture that supports growth of the plants.
The characteristic round-lobed leaf.
Leaf and flower.
A flower. Flowers are usually a deep, intense purple when they first open, and gradually fade to white as they age.
I finally found the distribution for the Hepatica nobilis varieties. They are widely distributed in the eastern United States and Canada.
- Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa
- Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Hepatica nobilis var. acuta
- Wildflowers of the United States: Anemone americana - Round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa)
- Wildflowers of the United States: Anemone acutiloba - Sharp-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica nobilis var. acuta)