Hepaticas are one of the first (and therefore most welcomed) wildflowers to bloom in the spring, at which time the new leaves are very small, densely pilose, and undeveloped. The distinctive 3-lobed leaves surviving from the previous year, however, may be found, sometimes buried among dry leaves shed by the trees of the forest canopy. The colored perianth in this genus consists of sepals; the three green structures beneath, resembling sepals, are actually bracts, inserted on the scape only a few mm below the flower.

Proportions given in the key for the middle lobe of the leaf are calculated by measuring the lobe (from the apex to a line connecting the bases of the sinuses on each side) and the total length of the blade (apex to the summit of the unexpanded petiole). In the case of ambiguous measurements, check more than one leaf on a plant.

Hepatica has been clearly shown to be nested within Anemone, but we hope to be forgiven for recognizing such a familiar genus in the hopes that with a world-wide study, the variable genus Anemone may be split along natural lines into smaller genera, as is sometimes done in Europe, and rarely in North America (Weber & Wittmann, 2001), which would allow recognition of Hepatica (and also Pulsatilla). In Anemone, the names of our plants would be Anemone acutiloba (DC.) Laws. and A. americana (DC.) H. Hara.

1. Middle lobe of leaf ± acute (margins approaching apex at angle of 90° or, usually, less), 70–90% of the total blade length.

H. acutiloba

1. Middle lobe of leaf rounded to obtuse, (45–) 55–65% of the total blade length.

H. americana

All species found in Hepatica

Hepatica acutilobaSHARP-LOBED HEPATICA 
Hepatica americanaROUND-LOBED HEPATICA 


MICHIGAN FLORA ONLINE. A. A. Reznicek, E. G. Voss, & B. S. Walters. February 2011. University of Michigan. Web. March 28, 2017. http://michiganflora.net/genus.aspx?id=Hepatica.