Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hepatica - First Bloom of the New Year

The first bloom in January is always a special one. It usually comes about two months after seeing the last flower of the previous year ... so the gardening soul is anxious for it. In my area of Georgia, the first native plant to bloom is always round lobed Hepatica, previously known as Hepatica americana, but now classified as Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa. Common names are round lobed hepatica or liverwort. There is also a sharp lobed form.

Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa
 The first one this year is in a pot, hurried along a bit by the slighter warmer temperatures inside the garage. But not much earlier - photographs from last year are dated in mid-January as well. This is a treasured plant - given to me by a friend that is no longer with us. I look forward to planting it in a special spot soon. It will join many other plants given to me by my friend. Plants from friends evoke wonderful memories that we can enjoy every day.

Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa

Hepatica blooms can vary considerably in color - from almost white to deep purple. The identification books also mention the color pink, but I have never seen a pink bloom.  While blooms start in January, they often continue into February and even March. Here is a picture from the end of February 2011. The evergreen foliage is still present; new leaves emerge a little later in spring and the old ones will fade away.

I have fairly heavy leaf litter so I find this grows best at the base of a large tree. In that situation the leaves don't form such a heavy cover, allowing this little flower to quietly flaunt it's bit of green all winter.

If you live in this plant's natural range, I encourage you to seek it out for your garden or look for it on nature hikes so that you can admire it's delicate beauty.


  1. I have lots of the sharp lobed form at our cabin in western NC and one struggling to survive here in Decatur, GA. I will order one of the round lobed ones to add here. The flowers are captivating.

  2. The special attachments we have for the plants from our dearest friends are such a bond of love and memory.