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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ranunculales
Family: Ranunculaceae
Genus: Hepatica

Hepatica nobilis
Hepatica transsilvanica

Hepatica is a genus of herbaceous perennial plants belonging to the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. A native of central and northern Europe, Asia and northeastern North America, Hepatica is sometimes called liverleaf or "liverwort". It should not be confused with liverworts, which may also be called "Hepaticae". A few botanists include Hepatica within a wider interpretation of Anemone, as Anemone hepatica.[1][2]

Between two and ten species of Hepatica are recognised, with some of the taxa more often treated as varieties:

  • Hepatica nobilis - Common Hepatica
    • H. nobilis var. pyrenaica (H. pyrenaica) - Pyrenees
    • H. nobilis var. japonica (H. japonica) - Japan
    • H. nobilis var. nobilis - European Hepatica - Alps north to Scandinavia
    • H. nobilis var. pubescens (H. pubescens) - Japan
    • H. nobilis var. acuta (H. acutiloba) - Sharp-lobed Hepatica - North America[3][4]
    • H. nobilis var. obtusa (H. americana) - Round-lobed Hepatica - North America[5][6]
  • Hepatica transsilvanica - Carpathian Mountains and Transylvania

Hepatica cultivation has been popular in Japan since the 18th Century (mid-Edo period), where flowers with doubled petals and a range of colour patterns have been developed [7].

  Noted for their tolerance of alkaline limestone-derived soils, Hepatica may grow in a wide range of conditions; it can be found either in deeply shaded deciduous (especially beech) woodland and scrub or grassland in full sun. Hepatica will also grow in both sandy and clay-rich substrates, being associated with limestone. Moist soil and winter snowfall is a requirement; Hepatica is tolerant of winter snow cover, but less so of dry frost.

Hepatica reaches a height of 10 cm and produces hermaphroditic flowers from February to May. The leaves are basal and dark leathery green, each with three lobes. The flowers may be white, bluish purple or pink; they are supported singly on hairy, largely leafless stems. Butterflies, moths, bees, flies and beetles are known to act as pollinators for Hepatica.

Hepatica is named from its leaves, which, like the human liver (Greek hepar), have three lobes. It was once used as a medicinal herb. Owing to the doctrine of signatures, the plant was thought an effective treatment for liver disorders. Although poisonous in large doses, the leaves and flowers may be used as an astringent, demulcent for slow-healing injuries and as a diuretic [1].



  1. ^ a b John Uri Lloyd & Curtis G. Lloyd (1884–1887). Drugs and medicines of North America: Hepatica.
  2. ^ Sara B. Hoot, Anton A. Reznicek, Jeffrey D. Palmer (Jan. - Mar., 1994). "Phylogenetic Relationships in Anemone (Ranunculaceae) Based on Morphology and Chloroplast DNA". Systematic Botany 19 (1): 169-200. doi:10.2307/2419720.
  3. ^ Slattery, Britt E., Kathryn Reshetiloff, and Susan M. Zwicker (2003). Hepatica nobilis var. acuta. Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
  4. ^ Taxonomic Serial No.: 528378. Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  5. ^ Slattery, Britt E., Kathryn Reshetiloff, and Susan M. Zwicker (2003). Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa. Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
  6. ^ Taxonomic Serial No.: 528379. Integrated Taxonomic Information System.
  7. ^ Jon Ardle (2000). Layers of Complexity. The Garden. Royal Horticultural Society.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Hepatica". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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