It is a day in March, sunny, bright, but still cool and frosty-feeling on the north slope of a damp, wooded hillside. Now, suddenly, the hepaticas are in bloom. All winter there were the purple-red hepatiea leaves from last year, standing above the dead oak leaves, or buried under snow, to mark where the hepatica plants lived in waiting for the first inkling of spring. Unlike so many of the earliest flowers whose plants stand only a little while above the earth while they bloom, make seeds, and send food into the roots, the hepatiea is visible all the year round. Curled down at the base of the plant, from which spread the long-stemmed, three-lobed, purplish old leaves, there are grey, silky-furry, new leaves tightly folded and curled together above the flower buds on their silky stems. In an incredibly short time after the ground has thawed and the sun shows more strength than it had in February, the flower stalks extend themselves and the buds open in the weak sunshine. Lavender, pink, white, and all variations of these colors, decorated with a whorl of white stamens in the center, the hepatica flowers are among the most charming to be found in the woods. John Burroughs said of the hepaticas in his New England woods: "There are many things left for May, but nothing fairer, if as fair, as the first flower, the hepatica. What an individuality it has! No two clusters alike; all shades and sizes. A solitary blue-purple one, fully expanded and rising over the brown leaves or the green moss, its cluster of minute anthers showing like a group of pale stars on its little firmament, is enough to arrest and hold the dullest eye."
Hepatica acutiloba DC.
April Wooded hills.