Liverleaf (Round-Lobed Hepatica)

Anemone americana (formerly Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa)
Ranunculaceae (crowfoots, buttercups)

Flowering stems extremely hairy. One of the earliest-flowering plants in spring. Flowers on leafless stems (scapes), which are silky-hairy with 5–12 petallike sepals, numerous stamens, one flower to a scape; white, pink, and shades of blue and lavender. Blooms March–April. Leaves basal, on long, hairy stems, deeply 3-lobed with a heart-shaped base, the lobes rounded. Light green at first, later turning leathery in beautiful shades of wine-red and brown and remaining so through the winter, surrounding the newly appearing leaves in spring.

Similar species: Sharp-lobed hepatica (A. acutiloba, formerly Hepatica nobilis var. acuta), is similar except that the 3 lobes of the leaves are sharp-pointed, not rounded. It is found primarily in the eastern half and southern two-thirds of Missouri.

Height: to about 6 inches.
Habitat and conservation: 
Occurs on rich or rock, steep, wooded slopes, usually facing north or east, mossy ledges, and ravine bottoms, often in acid soils.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Primarily in the Ozark region, south of the Missouri River. Absent from western third of state.
Human connections: 
An ancient theory called the "doctrine of signatures" held that a plant's resemblance to a part of the body was a "sign" that it could be used to treat diseases of that organ. This plant, with its lobed, liver-colored leaves, resembled a liver and therefore was used to treat liver problems.
Ecosystem connections: 
Bees and flies are the primary pollinators. Because the leaves commonly survive well into winter, apparently not many animals eat them.
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