White Sharp-Lobed Hepatica, My New Love: Wildflower Wednesday

– Posted in: Native/Invasive

white liverwort, hepatica acutiloba, Anemone acutiloba

I fell in love with the white form of sharp-lobed hepatica along a walking trail in Tennessee.

Earlier this month I visited the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee, in particular the Bald River Falls. Frances of Fairegarden and I walked a trail that took us up behind the falls along the Bald River, and we saw many wildflowers as we walked. The one that stole my heart is known as Hepatica acutiloba. (It’s recently been moved to the Anemone genus and is now known as Anemone acutiloba. Sigh. I’m going to pretend I didn’t know that.)
Hepatica acutiloba, Anemone acutiloba

White hepatica was blooming abundantly along the steep banks of the hiking trail.

Any other time I had seen hepatica, it was blue-violet in color, perhaps at times leaning towards pink. But these flowers were a pure, glowing white, and I couldn’t get enough of them. I knew I wanted to grow them in the wilder part of my garden, with other native plants in the woods.

Two kinds of hepatica are considered native to North America: Hepatica acutiloba and H. americana. You tell them apart by looking at the leaves. The sharp-lobed hepatica, H. acutiloba, has pointy leaves.

Sharp-lobed hepatica, hepatica acutiloba, anemone acutiloba

See how each lobe of the leaf comes to a point?

Yet many sources, including the Minnesota Wildflowers website, concede that the difference between the leaves of the sharp-lobed hepatica and the round-lobed hepatica (H. americana) can be pretty subtle. In fact, at one point they were considered variants of the same species. But still, most sources seem to think that the sharp-lobed hepatica does better on limestone soils. If that’s true, I will have trouble growing it on my acid clay, unless I add lime to the soil. But then, I doubt it would naturalize.
white sharp-lobed hepatica, hepatica acutiloba, anemone acutiloba

I won’t know if this hepatica will thrive in my garden until I try it.

I have grown other supposedly lime-loving plants without amending the soil, so I am not without hope. But if you know of a source for the white-flowered form of either hepatica, please let me know. Thanks.

Posted for Wildflower Wednesday, created by Gail of Clay and Limestone, to share wildflowers/native plants no matter where you garden in the blogasphere. “It doesn’t matter if we sometimes show the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. It’s always the fourth Wednesday of the month!”

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

In its own way, frost may be one of the most beautiful things to happen in your garden all year . . . Don’t miss it. Like all true beauty, it is fleeting. It will grace your garden for but a short while this morning. . . . For this moment, embrace frost as the beautiful gift that it is.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

Comments on this entry are closed.

Ilona Erwin April 29, 2013, 2:46 pm

Oh these are so beautiful! I love woodland wildflowers and haven’t been able to grow them, but I now have a spot with redbud and sheltering spruces and this looks like it could make a go of it. I hope you succeed in growing a stand of this plant with its endearing flowers.

I envy you your walk around Tennessee trails with Frances ๐Ÿ™‚

Leslie April 26, 2013, 7:46 pm

I’ve ordered from this vendor and their native plant variety is extensive. They carry both “sharp & round” leaved Hepatica. So many woodland treasures to choose from.
Since they’re in NC mountains their weather is cold enough to match hardier zones for growing conditions which I prefer when ordering plants. I ordered plants from them to make a memorial Butterfly Garden for my mother after she passed away.


What I wouldn’t give for a number of healthy patches of lovely Virginia Blue Bells (Mertensia virginica)! A girl can always dream. ๐Ÿ™‚

Kathy Purdy April 26, 2013, 7:54 pm

Thank you for the recommendation, Leslie.

Shirley April 25, 2013, 5:36 pm

Hello again, Kathy ๐Ÿ™‚ Ohโ€ฆ having wood anemones n my Scottish garden I am swooning over this plant from here. As you say, itโ€™s the details in these delicate flowers that make them. Iโ€™ve always found itโ€™s not until you photograph plants, that you see the true beauty of the detail in foliage too. This one is a stunner on both counts โ€“ I love the leaves almost as much as the flowers ๐Ÿ˜€

Sam Peri April 25, 2013, 1:01 pm

Hi Kathy! I also like to have this wonderful plant. I’ve seen several Hepatica in Illinois and they are really pretty. I was also lucky to see a lavender-blue Hepatica which can be rarely seen. Anyway, do you have any idea how to plant and nurture Hepatica in garden setting?

debra April 25, 2013, 9:08 am

love hepaticas, Kathy~
I remember when Richie Steffan of the Miller Garden in Seattle gave a lecture about these luscious little gems…and he brought a small quantity to sell afterwards (like one flat of the purple ones and one of the white variety). You would have thought we were at a major jewelry auction to watch how people jostled for a chance to bring one plant home with them.
Hepaticas love our mild winters in Seattle. Glad to see they love your winters, too. Probably because of their varied native origins.
xoxo debra

Becky April 25, 2013, 9:01 am

My goodness. They are absolutely lovely. One thing I miss about having rather compressed seasons here in Florida (and not much winter to speak of) is the first flush of those cold hardy flowers peeking out in spring. Thanks for the reminder!

Donna@Gardens Eye View April 25, 2013, 7:31 am

Prairie Moon sells it but it is not available right now, but you can have them email you when it is…I love this service and they are great about getting to you once they have more.

Charlie@Seattle Trekker April 25, 2013, 12:13 am

The Hepatica you showed photos of is absolutely gorgeous. I have understory forested areas where a plant like this would be perfect.

Helen at Toronto Gardens April 24, 2013, 9:27 pm

Wishing you every success. They are lovely.

Lea April 24, 2013, 9:11 pm

I have never heard of that wildflower before.
It is so pretty!
I hope you can find one that will thrive in your garden.
Lea’s Menagerie

Michael April 24, 2013, 10:13 am

I just discovered this genus of plants and I too am enamoured. I recently purchased a batch from a seller on (of all places) Ebay – just do a search for hepatica and you’ll find several. The ones I purchased are white and look like the ones you’re after but I can’t recall if they are exactly these. I’m growing them in pots right now and they seem to be doing well. I’m not sure I will try to natualize them – I too have clay and acid soil.

Cindy, MCOK April 24, 2013, 9:14 am

That is a lovely little plant … had I the climate for it and an amenable spot in the garden, I would grow it too!

Gail April 24, 2013, 6:40 am

It’s a beauty of a plant and I hope you’re able to locate it. Your visit with Frances sounds like it was delightfully fun~She’s the best hostess. Happy Wildflower Wednesday. xogail

Frances April 24, 2013, 6:17 am

It was so enjoyable to be able to show you the falls and the wildflowers in bloom were such a treat, Kathy. I hope you find the object of your desire. That area is not really alkaline at all, remember the native Rhododendrons and Mountain Laurel we saw there? Here’s to you having a fine stand of Anemone/Hepatica in your own garden, with moss and ferns and rocks to make it feel at home.

Kathy Purdy April 24, 2013, 12:11 pm

You’re right! The rhodos were growing wild all over there! This gives me hope, and maybe courage, too.