Scape. - Fuzzy, one-flowered. Leaves. - Rounded, three-lobed, from the root. Flowers. - Blue, white, or pinkish. Calyx. - Of six to twelve petallike sepals; easily taken for a corolla, because directly underneath are three little leaves which resemble a calyx. Corolla. - None. Stamens. - Usually numerous. Pistils. - Several.
Plate LXXXIV. Liverwort - H. triloba
The liver-leaf puts forth her sister blooms Of faintest blue soon after the late snows have melted. Indeed these fragile-looking, enamel-like flowers are sometimes found actually beneath the snow, and form one of the many instances which we encounter among flowers, as among their human contemporaries, where the frail and delicate-looking withstand storm and stress far better than their more robust-appearing brethren. We welcome these tiny newcomers with especial joy, not alone for their delicate beauty, but because they are usually the first of all the flowers upon the scene of action, if we rule out the never-tardy skunk-cabbage. The rusty leaves of last summer are obliged to suffice for the plant's foliage until some little time after the blossoms have appeared, when the young fresh leaves begin to uncurl themselves. Some one has suggested that the fuzzy little buds look as though they were still wearing their furs as a protection against the wintry weather which so often stretches late into our spring. The flowers vary in color from a lovely blue to pink or white. They are found chiefly in the woods, but occasionally on the sunny hill-sides as well.
The generic name, Hepatica, is from the Greek for liver, and was probably given to the plant on account of the shape of its leaf. Dr. Prior says that "in consequence of this fancied likeness it was used as a remedy for liver-complaints, the common people having long labored under the belief that nature indicated in some such fashion the uses to which her Creations might be applied."