Diminutive woodland plants (just 69 in. high and 6 in. wide) with evergreen or nearly evergreen leaves and charming blooms. Plants resemble smaller sorts of anemones and were formerly considered to be anemones. In herbal medicine, they have been used to treat disorders of the liver, hence the common name. Plants bloom in early spring, bearing flowers with numerous narrow, petal-like sepals arranged around a central mass of yellow stamens. Each bloom rises on its own stalk above the clump of last year's foliage. A new crop of leaves follows bloom.
These are choice plants for woodland gardens and shaded rock gardens. Though little known in North America except among wildflower fanciers, they are popular with plant collectors in Japan, where many selections are cultivated.
H. acutiloba. SHARPLOBE HEPATICA. Native to eastern and central North America. Leathery, 4-in. leaves are divided into three sharp-pointed lobes. Flowers are lilac and white, 121 in. across, on stems to 9 in. high.
H. americana. LIVERWORT. Native to eastern and central North America. Leathery, 4-in. leaves with three rounded lobes. Flowering stems are usually 6 in. high. Flowers are 121 in. wide, typically light blue but sometimes pink or white.
H. nobilis (H. triloba). Native to Europe. Very similar to H. americana. Flowers are usually bluish purple but may be white or pink.