April’s end

With the month of April drawing to an end so does the flowering of Hepatica americana in our region.

I cannot really jump into May without posting a few images of these past weeks scouting; most notably a small leaf form, a specimen with deep blue flowers and another one with almost purple flowers.

Hepatica americana - small leaf form

Hepatica americana – small leaf form; there were few young seedlings with light blue flowers in the same area


Hepatica americana - deep blue

Hepatica americana – deep blue flowers


Hepatica americana- purple flowers

Hepatica americana- purple flowers with a bit of extra sepals; my favourite;
the picture doesn’t show it in its full beauty.

A good end :)

H. americana


Last year I found a specimen (actually a small group) of Sanguinaria with larger leaves than typical. It was already with seeds and was offered as: Sanguinaria canadensis – large leaf form. I promised I would have pictures with flowers this spring.

Here they are and congratulations to those who bought seeds last year! There is more to it than the big leaves: the buds show up in a nice dusky pink colour, which then fades when the flowers open. Beautiful.

Sanguinaria canadensis - Large leaf form

Sanguinaria canadensis – large leaf form flowering


Hepatica acutiloba 2016

Addendum to Notes on Hepatica acutiloba

Yes, the season of ten thousand flowers has begun. After a mild winter, Hepaticas were ready to burst into flower since late March, if not for the last polar vortex. A short scouting trip was done mostly for Hepatica acutiloba which is flowering slightly earlier than H. americana. It has proven very fruitful.

Beautiful specimens were found and tagged. Various colours, foliage and even scented plants! And surely, with the thought of bloom, comes the thought of seeds :)

Hepatica acutiloba – white flowers with pink overlay, slightly fragrant!

Hepatica acutiloba - white, scented

Hepatica acutiloba with blue flowers and also slightly fragrant.

Hepatica acutiloba blue, scented

And one specimen I marked since late fall for its beautiful foliage: H. acutiloba fo. diversiloba – blue flowers and also fragrant!

Hepatica acutiloba fo. diversiloba - blue, scented

I can feel it – is going to be a very exciting season!!!

The season of ten thousand flowers

The season of ten thousand flowers has surely begun! More to follow…

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,

a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.

If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,

this is the best season of your life. 

                                                                                         – Wumen

Hepatica starting to flower



Spring photo-shoot 2016

Lately we’ve been ‘polar-vortexed’ (that’s a new expression); another term that went around was ‘winter in the spring’…all not too happy words, at least for gardeners. But relief is in sight – temperatures in double digits are expected by the end of the week!

So, it is time for the annual spring photo-shoot. Soon, the more advanced youngsters from the germinatrix will go outside (they have become impatient and a bit pale from lack of sun). Just one image from the many I took yesterday.

Come close together – Say cheese!

Spring photo-shoot 2016

As always, a mix of everything; it’s called ‘butterflying’; seeds that I collected myself, gifted seeds, traded seeds…all welcome :)

From the very early germinated and already grown up Capnoides sempervirens, Iris dichotoma, A. pachypoda fo. rubrocarpa and Scabiosa caucasica ‘Fama Blue’, to young babies like Podophyllum delavayi and P. pleianthum.

Podophyllum delavayi and P. pleianthum seedlings

Podophyllum delavayi, P. pleianthum and hybrids young seedlings

Among the very new and exciting, Paronychia cephalotes and Silene jailensis, are looking well;  good hope for nice grown plants by the summer!

And so many more…(hover over the images for the species names)




Notes on Hepatica acutiloba

Anemone acutiloba (DC.) Laws (Flora of N. America)

April begins here with a joke, weather wise – we are expecting snow! Thus, it is a good moment to gather and publish my notes on Hepatica acutiloba (Sharp-lobed hepatica) before it gets busy.The seeds are also starting to germinate, so it cannot be too long till flowering begins.

Hepatica acutiloba is easily distinguished from the only other N American species, H. americana, by having the leaf lobes acute or acuminate, with the middle lobe 70-90% of total blade length; involucral bracts +/- acute (FNA). Sometimes when the lobes are acute it’s a bit more difficult to distinguish it; when in doubt, see the footnote about how to measure the leaves (1).

It is usually found in deciduous beech-maple forests (oaks & other species possible), on rich soils; rarely in mixed deciduous and coniferous forests. In comparison to H. americana, it tolerates wet situations better. Therefore for cultivation it is a better choice if someone really wants to grow a Hepatica in a slightly moist location.

The new foliage can be reddish- bronze when emerging, but not always; villous in various degrees (with long, soft hairs). I would grow this species even if just for the foliage, which besides the flowers, constitutes its most notable ornamental quality.

A while ago there were 5 recognized forms for H. acutiloba (2). From a taxonomic point of view they are obsolete nowadays, but I think from an ornamental point of view they are important and could be used in breeding since the progeny resulted from seed propagation is uniform. Therefore, starting this year, seeds will be offered marked as such (provided that we’ll manage to  get some…).

The regular form of Hepatica acutiloba is blue flowered (H. acutiloba fo. acutiloba).

Hepatica acutiloba blue flowered

Hepatica acutiloba blue flowers

However, it seems though that at least in Southwestern Ontario, the white flowered form is predominant.

Hepatica acutiloba fo. albiflora Ralph Hoffm. – has large white flowers and is usually quite vigorous in habit. Notice in the second image how large the involucral bracts are – they seem to be green ‘flowers’. This is the form that we offered seeds in previous years.

Hepatica acutiloba fo. rosea Ralph Hoffm. – has pink flowers in various shades, and the leaves can exhibit very nice veined markings.

I don’t know if specimens with pink blushed flowers should be included in fo. rosea but I like them very much. Some are light-pink, others have white flowers with just a dab of pink mixed in. Probably an acquired taste…

Hepatica acutiloba fo. diversiloba Raymond – leaves with 5-7 lobes instead of the usual 3, hence the name. The character is not always consistent and often on the same plant both 3-lobed and 5-7-lobed leaves are present. Young seedlings may not display the character for 1-2 years.

Until now I only saw this form having white flowers. The leaves can also develop beautiful veined markings. In the first image of a cultivated plant, the foliage is interestingly marbled instead of having marked veins.

The last form is Hepatica acutiloba fo. plena Fernald; I know it is somewhere out there in the woods, quietly waiting to be found…

About  fragrance

I read about this for the first time in the excellent article published in AGS Journal (vol. 83 No.3) by Michael Meyers; he writes “some plants have a strong fragrance”. I don’t know how come I have never noticed any fragrance, but I will be more on a ‘sniffing’ mode from now on.

About the intermediate forms between H. americana and H. acutiloba

It is not very often that they are found growing together, but when they are, things became complicated. Quote from Flora of Michigan: “When the two hepaticas do grow together, intermediate leaf shapes are only rarely found, although what they mean has not been fully investigated”.

I only agree with the last part; it hasn’t been investigated and hybrids are not recognized at the moment. As for the statement “intermediate leaf shapes are only rarely found” – well, anyone spending more time in the woods would disagree with it.

I will return with Notes on Hepatica americana and also few specimens with very interesting leaf forms. What do they mean…? It also hasn’t been investigated, yet… ;)


 (1) For the ID of H. acutiloba using measurements of the leaves follow this guideline:  “Proportions given in the key for the middle lobe of the leaf are calculated by measuring the lobe (from the apex to a line connecting the bases of the sinuses on each side) and the total length of the blade (apex to the summit of the unexpanded petiole). In the case of ambiguous measurements, check more than one leaf on a plant” – Flora of Michigan.

 (2) Tropicos – see references for the publications of the H. acutiloba forms.

Hepatica acutiloba - leaf measuring

Typical leaves of Hepatica acutiloba