Simply The Best-January


“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.

IMG_5099For 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.
IMG_5418Sharp-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-

Blue Hepatica

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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All content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

47 Replies to “Simply The Best-January”

    1. Anette that is wonderful. I think they may seed more if I had them in another location. I plan to put more of them in some other locations…just love them.

  1. It really is hard to narrow down to the 12 best garden plants. Far too many are outstanding, but it is an added plus when it is adored by the wildlife.

    1. I agree Donna. For me it is those plants that I just adore as natives and that I look forward to seeing even for a short period of time.

  2. I love this plant! We’re actually west of its native range and it struggles a bit here, probably due to lack of enough water, but it is one of my favorites in my shady areas. I love the leaves as much or more than the flowers – I can see them longer and their shape and variegation pattern are deeply satisfying. Thanks for posting this and brightening a dull, winter day!

    1. I also look forward to the leaves. i think that is why I adore this plant so much. First the cutest flowers appear and then these stunning leaves come out and stay for the rest of the year. So glad you enjoyed the post!

  3. Very pretty. I always loved buttercups when I was a child, and this member of the family looks so sweet. I’m surprised at its slow spreading nature.

  4. Beautiful selection! I enjoy viewing these lovely blooms during the winter. The delicate color in the hepatica is soft and simple. Thanks for listing so much pertinent info associated with the plant…very nice!

    1. My pleasure Michelle. So glad you enjoyed seeing the beautiful blooms of hepatica while a winter storm is raging outside my window. It brought a soft gentle warm breeze of April to my day!!

  5. Hi Donna
    They’re very sweet. I especially love the harbingers of spring. I’m definitely going to try them – I love the soft shade of purplish-pink.

    1. Malinda so glad you liked the hepaticas…you will absolutely be enamored with them as they bloom…I linger over them in spring…I will be posting another sweet spring native flower in mid-February…

  6. I must go and look up for some hepaticas then, I remember the woodlands close to my childhood house are full of hepaticas, the dark blue ones. Beautiful.

    1. Oh Alberto they sound wonderful…dark blue buttercup blooms in the woods…I cannot think of anything more beautiful…I hope you find some so we can see some pictures!

  7. Beautiful! I must try in my new Woodland Edge. Maybe when the young trees and shrubs grow up a little providing more shade, but not sure I can wait that long!

  8. I planted these for the first time in fall, 2010. I was stunned by their unexpected beauty when they bloomed last year. I planted two more afterwards and am eagerly waiting to see if they will be as beautiful this year. i wish I had a forest full of them!

  9. I’m so glad you’re writing about native plants. I was so inspired by all the native plants I saw growing wild and used in urban spaces during my visit to the States, I’ll try to follow all your posts about this. Christina

    1. Beth I cannot wait to see all those precious spring bloomers…I have another native favorite not often mentioned spring bloomer that I will be highlighting in February

    1. So glad you enjoyed the post Debbie…it is such a lovely flower that once it blooms you are drawn in to its beauty. I cannot get enough of the fuzzy stems and unusual leaves as well…

  10. Donna, these used to be some of my favorites when I lived in Ithaca. I’d take Luther T. Dog out for on off-leash ramble on one of the wooded trails and would see them scattered about. (I think they were the round-lobed kind, though.) They were one of the signs that it was time to get the leash out and be polite again, because fishing season was beginning. I didn’t know they would grow in an actual garden, though–how exciting!

    1. I am so glad they brought back memories Stacy. I am thrilled I could grow them in my garden and hope to move them to my wooded areas as well where they belong.

    1. I think it was a complete fluke Carolyn. They are on the edge of a shady North facing bed that stays moist and gets some morning sun. I hope to have success adding them to some other shady areas. I will remember to make sure it is well draining like the original bed they are in.

  11. It sure is a lovely wildflower! At first I thought it was a crocus. It’s so sweet and I must look for it in the woods here.

  12. Donna a lovely post about a lovely little flower, when I saw this plant on some blogs last year and they were all USA blogs saying it was a native to the usa I was disappointed there wasn’t any in Europe, I would still buy some if I saw them but not go looking, sooo
    thank you so much for saying in your post there are European and Asian species, I just did a search and found a nursery in the UK selling European species and other species and that sends out bareroot plants, thanks also for giving the common name Liverworts I have heard of, Frances

    1. Frances how exciting. I am trying to be good about giving enough info for bloggers around the world. I cannot wait to see yours growing to compare to ours. And so glad my post was helpful!

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