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Wisconsin Plant of the Week

Anemone acutiloba (DC.) G. Lawson

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Common Name:

sharp-lobed hepatica


Sharp-lobed hepatica is a native perennial herb found in the rich soil of beech-maple woods. Itís one of the first spring wildflowers, opens only on warm sunny days, and is pollinated by wind and insects.  It sets fruit before the trees leaf out and spreads both by seed and from rhizomes.  Plants grow in clumps to 10 cm tall.

Leaves are all basal and 5 to 6 cm wide with 3 lobes.  At least the middle lobe is pointed.  Leaves persist over winter and the flowers bloom before the new leaves leaves appear. The upper leaf surface is green, sometime with purple mottles; the lower surface is often purple. The common name is based on the resemblance of the leaf to a liver.

Flowers are white, pink, blue or purple, up to 2 cm wide, and solitary on hairy, leafless stems. Each flower usually has 6 petal-like sepals, but this can vary from 5 to 12. Like all the members of the buttercup family, the flower parts are all separate rather than fused together, and there are many stamens.

Three pointed green bracts surround the bottom of each flower. This character was the basis for a distinct genus, Hepatica, which is no longer separated from Anemone.

A. americana (Round-lobed hepatica) has rounded, shallower lobes and the bracts beneath the flower are also rounded.  Round-lobed hepatica is more common in drier sites with more acid soil.

  • Origin of the name: Anemone, Gr. anemos, wind; acutiloba, sharp lobes
     Range:  Quebec to MN, s. to GA, MO
  • WI Range:  Statewide except far north; usually assocated with the range of American Beech
  • Common associates: Beech, sugar maple, wild onion, bloodroot, trillium
  • Wetland Indicator Status: UPL
  • Coefficient of Conservatism: C = 6 (S&W), C = 8 (MI)
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