Liverleaf (Round-Lobed Hepatica)

Photo of liverleaf wildflower
Scientific Name
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.
Where To Find
image of Liverleaf Round-Lobed Hepatica distribution map
Primarily in the Ozark region, south of the Missouri River. Absent from western third of state.
Occurs on rich or rock, steep, wooded slopes, usually facing north or east, mossy ledges, and ravine bottoms, often in acid soils.
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.
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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Similar Species
About Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants in Missouri
A very simple way of thinking about the green world is to divide the vascular plants into two groups: woody and nonwoody (or herbaceous). But this is an artificial division; many plant families include some species that are woody and some that are not. The diversity of nonwoody vascular plants is staggering! Think of all the ferns, grasses, sedges, lilies, peas, sunflowers, nightshades, milkweeds, mustards, mints, and mallows — weeds and wildflowers — and many more!