“May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day.” ~Native American Proverb
Diana@Elephants Eye has challenged bloggers to pick our top 12 plants to post about this year. She asked that we pick one plant a month and highlight it, and then link back to her blog. Since I have added more native plants to my garden, I decided I would gear these monthly plant posts toward my picks for the top 12 natives I want to see more of in my garden.
For January, I am picking an early spring native plant, Hepatica nobilis var. acuta or Sharp-lobed Hepatica. I don’t know why I still only have one hepatica plant in my garden. Four years ago I planted one hepatica and forgot all about it. A year later these delicate purple flowers appeared on hairy stems about 6 inches above ground. There were no leaves to be seen and I had no idea what this plant was. But I couldn’t get over the delicate beauty of the flowers. They are supposed to spread by reseeding, but mine has been slow in spreading. After watching this plant grow for two years, I have decided I need to try to divide the nice size clump that has grown, and move it to other moist shady areas of the garden.
Hepatica is part of the Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae), and it is easy to see that in the delicate flowers. White, pink or purple flowers will suddenly appear in early spring (March or April), and last for a couple of weeks. The leaves grow from ground level on their own fuzzy reddish-brown stems after the flowers have blossomed. The leaves remain evergreen through winter.
Sharp-Lobed Hepatica can be found growing wild in the shade of deciduous forests in the the eastern half of North America. Their delicate flowers can be seen popping out from the rich leaf litter below. In a garden they are beautiful in a shady or woodland wildflower garden area. They need well-drained loamy soil, and will tolerate dappled sunlight during the spring and more shade during summer. Hepaticas are visited by all types of pollinators including bees, flies and butterflies.
Origin: Both Sharp-leafed and Round-leafed varieties are native to US; at altitudes up to 3000 feet. There are European and Asian hepaticas as well.
Name: Its name comes from the distinctive three-lobed leaves are said to be similar to the human liver; the Greek word for “liver” is hēpar. The common name for hepatica is “Liverwort”; “wort” meaning plant or root.
Uses: Native Americans and early herbalists used hepatica tea as a laxative; also used for indigestion, to ease pain in the gall bladder, as a diuretic, liver tonic and externally it was used to heal cuts. Native Americans used hepatica in the treatment of abdominal and gynecological issues. Early settlers also used Native American liver leaf as it was called.
Folklore: Hepatica is thought to be a harbinger of spring. When farmers would see the flowers of the hepaticas in the spring, they knew it would soon be planting time.
Language of Flowers: Confidence
All the woodland path is broken
By warm tints along the way
And the low and sunny slope
Is alive with sudden hope.
When there comes the silent token
Of an April day-
Dora Reed Goodale
Coming Next Week: The first of the color posts on Monday highlighting orange for GBBD; and my first Garden Book Review: Seed Sowing and Saving. Perfect book to review since I am doing the seed growing indoors this winter. I’ll also have a new post at Beautiful Wildlife Garden as I page homage to the American Toad.
I am joining Katarina@Roses and Stuff for her Blooming Friday meme. This week is Centerpiece. Native plants are the centerpiece of my garden for 2012. As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday. So drop by to check out all the blooms this Friday.
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