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Hepatica, a member of the Buttercup family, is one of the first woodland wildflowers to appear in the spring, sometimes when there is still snow on the ground. It is currently flowering in northern New England, as much as a month earlier than usual.  Hepatica’s stem and flower buds are covered with dense, glistening, silvery hairs.  Some botanists theorize that these hairs may, in fact, help the plant retain heat during cold March and April days and nights.  Others see them as a deterrent to crawling insects, such as ants, which steal their nectar, given the chance — flying insects, including early flies, bees and butterflies, are more efficient pollinators. (Even if Hepatica isn’t visited by insects, it can fertilize itself.)  Named after the Greek word for liver (“hepar”),due to its three-lobed, evergreen leaves which resemble the shape of a human liver, Hepatica, also known as Liverwort, was thought to be effective in treating liver disease.



6 responses

  1. What a beautiful picture!!! I want to find some where are they?

    March 27, 2012 at 11:50 am

  2. These are in Plainfield, NH on conserved land on a south-facing bank near the Connecticut River! Call or email for directions!

    March 27, 2012 at 12:08 pm

  3. What a beautiful photo! You did their beauty justice…
    I don’t know about you but I find the timing of many things this spring VERY disorienting. Hope this current freeze doesn’t bite off too many of the buds-

    March 27, 2012 at 1:09 pm

  4. Wow, this is gorgeous Mary!

    March 28, 2012 at 1:40 am

    • Thanks so much! Why I am taking credit for something I certainly didn’t originally create is beyond me. Hats off to Hepatica!

      March 28, 2012 at 1:20 pm

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