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HEPATICA nobilis

Image of Hepatica nobilis

©Pennystone Gardens

Family

Ranunculaceae

Botanical Name

HEPATICA nobilis

Plant Common Name

Common Hepatica

General Description

Native to woodland areas of Europe, North America and Japan, this diminutive perennial is one of the first flowers to emerge in early spring. Its small, starry, saucer-shaped blooms are composed of five to seven petal-like sepals, and may appear in shades of white, pink, blue, or violet-blue. They rise on short, fuzzy stems above low, semi-evergreen mounds of three-lobed, kidney-shaped leaves which have burgundy purple undersides. The subtle yet distinctive foliage remains attractive throughout the growing season and tends to adopt more purplish hues in cold weather. New foliage is produced in spring. Lots of natural variation exists in plants growing in disparate parts of the world.

Common hepatica prefers a partial shade setting and thrives in rich, moist, organic soils. Natural populations tend to grow in rocky, upland woods where soils are more calcareous. Foliage tends to be fuller in plants grown in brighter light. Variants with darker colored leaves tend to have more purple foliage and better winter color. Propagate this slow-growing plant by dividing in spring, or allow it to self sow. It looks beautiful planted in small drifts in naturalized woodlands or shaded rock gardens.

Two varieties exist in the wild. sharplobe hepatica (H. nobilis var. acuta) has more pointed foliage and naturally exists across eastern North America. Roundlobe hepatica (H. nobilis var. obtusa) has leaves with more rounded lobes and has a similar natural distribution but extends a bit farther west. There are some differences in soil preference as well; roundlobe naturally exists in more acid soils while sharplobe can be found growing in more alkaline, or calcareous soils.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 3

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    4"-6" / 10.2cm - 15.2cm

  • Width

    4"-6" / 10.2cm - 15.2cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Late Winter

  • Native To

    North America, United States, Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, Central United States, South-Central United States, Canada, Europe, Japan

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Rosette/Stemless

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Blue, Pink, Blue Violet

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Purple, Burgundy

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Purple, Burgundy

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Purple, Burgundy

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Purple, Burgundy

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Evergreen

    Semi-Evergreen

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes