Sharp-Lobed and Round-Lobed Hepatica
(Hepatica nobilis acuta and obtusa)
In Duff Park you will find hepatica on the steep slopes with mostly northern exposure; Hepatica Trail, Funk Bike Way, Fernwood and Trillium Trails. It grows underneath the tree canopy where it is shady. Many plants grow for years in the same location.
This herbaceous perennial plant is about 3-6" tall. It consists of a tuft of basal leaves that develops during the late spring and persists through the winter. These leaves are up to 3" long and across; they have slender petioles up to 6" long. Each leaf is palmately divided into 3 lobes; the lobes are oval-ovate and approximately the same size. The smooth upper surface of each leaf can be green, brownish green, reddish brown, or contain patches of the preceding colors; usually, the upper surface is greener during the summer, but become reddish brown during the winter. The leaf margins are smooth; for var. acuta, the tips of the lobes are rather pointed in mature leaves.
A mature plant will produce a tuft of flowers on long stalks during early to mid-spring, by which time the basal leaves that persisted during the winter may have withered away. Each flower occurs on a naked hairy stalk about 3-4" long; this stalk is often reddish green or reddish brown. The flower may be erect or it may nod on its stalk. Each flower is up to 0.75 inch across, consisting of 5-11 petal-like sepals, a green cluster of carpels in its center, and numerous white stamens surrounding the carpels. The sepals are white, pastel pink, or pastel blue; each sepal is oblong-oval in shape. At the base of each flower, there are 3 leafy bracts that are lanceolate, ovate, or oval in shape. These bracts are reddish green or reddish brown, hairy across the outer surface, and shorter than the sepals. The blooming period occurs during early to mid-spring and lasts about 2-3 weeks for a colony of plants; however, individual flowers are short-lived. The carpels turn brown and become beaked achenes that are often pubescent. The root system consists of a tuft of fibrous roots. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.
All photographs taken at Duff Park by Pat Comas, Tom Morton, Kyle Selcer and Theo van de Venne.