Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This native perennial plant is about 3-6" tall. It consists of a tuft of basal leaves that develops during the late spring and persists through the winter. These leaves are up to 3" long and across; they have slender petioles up to 6" long. Each leaf is palmately divided into 3 lobes; the lobes are oval-ovate and approximately the same size. The smooth upper surface of each leaf can be green, brownish green, reddish brown, or contain patches of the preceding colors; usually, the upper surface is more green during the summer, but become reddish brown during the winter. The leaf margins are smooth; for var. acuta, the tips of the lobes are rather pointed in mature leaves. A mature plant will produce a tuft of flowers on long stalks during early to mid-spring, by which time the basal leaves that persisted during the winter may have withered away. Each flower occurs on a naked hairy stalk about 3-4" long; this stalk is often reddish green or reddish brown. The flower may be erect or it may nod on its stalk. Each flower is up to 1" across, consisting of 5-11 petal-like sepals, a green cluster of carpels in its center, and numerous white stamens surrounding the carpels. The sepals are white, pastel pink, or pastel blue; each sepal is oblong-oval in shape. At the base of each flower, there are 3 leafy bracts that are lanceolate, ovate, or oval in shape. These bracts are reddish green or reddish brown, hairy across the outer surface, and shorter than the sepals. The blooming period occurs during early to mid-spring and lasts about 2-3 weeks for a colony of plants; however, individual flowers are short-lived. The carpels turn brown and become beaked achenes that are often pubescent. The root system consists of a tuft of fibrous roots. This plant spreads by reseeding itself. Cultivation
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Sharp-Lobed Hepatica is occasional in wooded areas of central and northern Illinois; it is uncommon or absent in southern Illinois (see Distribution Map). Habitats include upland deciduous woodlands, rocky bluffs, the slopes of bluffs, and limestone cliffs (where some shade occurs). Sharp-Lobed Hepatica occurs in high quality wooded areas where the original flora is largely intact. Sometimes it is cultivated as a rock garden plant. While Sharp-Lobed Hepatica is native to North America, the typical variety of Hepatica, Hepatica nobilis nobilis, occurs in Eurasia. Faunal Associations
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Most of eastern North America: Quebec and Labrador to MN, to GA, AL, and MO.

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Sharp-lobed hepatica is found in most states east of the Mississippi
River. Extending from Ontario, Quebec, and Maine [8,15,18], it proceeds
south through the eastern United States to Missouri, Georgia, and
Alabama [9,13,16].
  • 8. Gleason, Henry A. 1952. Illustrated flora of the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. Vol. 2. Choripetalous Dicotyledoneae. Lancaster, PA: Lancaster Press, Inc. 655 p. [18962]
  • 9. Jones, G. N.; Fuller, G. D. 1955. Vascular plants of Illinois. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. 593 p. [18964]
  • 13. Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1183 p. [7606]
  • 15. Scoggan, H. J. 1978. The flora of Canada. Ottawa, Canada: National Museums of Canada. (4 volumes). [18143]
  • 16. Seymour, Frank Conkling. 1982. The flora of New England. 2d ed. Phytologia Memoirs 5. Plainfield, NJ: Harold N. Moldenke and Alma L. Moldenke. 611 p. [7604]
  • 18. Steyermark, J. A. 1963. Flora of Missouri. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press. 1725 p. [18144]

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Occurrence in North America

AL CT GA ID IL IA KY ME MA MI
MN NH NJ NY NC OH PA RI SC TN
VT VA WV WI ON PQ

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Ont., Que.; Ala., Ark., Conn., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Ky., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Mo., N.H., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Pa., S.C., Tenn., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Sharp-lobed hepatica is a small, native, rhizomatous perennial, 2 to 7
inches (5-18 cm) tall [18]. Three leaves arise from the plant base.
Leaves are simple but deeply lobed. The three leaves are longer than
they are wide, with acutely pointed lobe tips and indented (cordate)
bases [6,15,18]. Long, hairy flowerstalks have a single small (0.05-0.1
inch [12-25 mm]) flower. Achenes are very hairy.
  • 6. Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. [Corrections supplied by R. C. Rollins]
  • 15. Scoggan, H. J. 1978. The flora of Canada. Ottawa, Canada: National Museums of Canada. (4 volumes). [18143]
  • 18. Steyermark, J. A. 1963. Flora of Missouri. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press. 1725 p. [18144]

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Description

Aerial shoots 5-19 cm, from rhizomes, rhizomes ascending to horizontal. Basal leaves 3-15, often purplish abaxially, simple, deeply divided; petiole 3-19 cm; leaf blade widely orbiculate, 1.3-8 × 1.8- -11.5 cm, base cordate, margins entire, apex acute or acuminate, surfaces strongly villous to glabrescent; lobes 3(-5), deltate, 0.7-4 cm wide; middle lobe 70-90% of total blade length. Inflorescences 1-flowered, villous to pilose; involucral bracts 3, 1-tiered, simple, dissimilar to basal leaves, lanceolate to ovate, 0.53-1.8 × 0.27-0.95 cm, sessile, calyx-like, closely subtending flowers, bases distinct, cuneate, margins entire, apex acute, strongly villous to glabrescent. Flowers: sepals 5-12, white to pink or bluish, ovate to obovate, 6-14.6 × 2.2-5.8 mm, glabrous; petals absent; stamens 10-30. Heads of achenes spheric; pedicel 0.1-0.4 cm. Achenes: body narrowly ovoid, 3.5-4.7 × 1.3-1.9 mm, slightly winged, hispid, gradually tapering; beak indistinct. 2 n =14.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Hepatica acutiloba de Candolle, Prodr. 1: 22. 1824; H. acuta (Pursh) Britton; H. nobilis Miller var. acuta (Pursh) Steyermark; H. triloba Chaix var. acuta Pursh; H. triloba var. acutiloba (de Candolle) Warner
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Sharp-Lobed Hepatica is occasional in wooded areas of central and northern Illinois; it is uncommon or absent in southern Illinois (see Distribution Map). Habitats include upland deciduous woodlands, rocky bluffs, the slopes of bluffs, and limestone cliffs (where some shade occurs). Sharp-Lobed Hepatica occurs in high quality wooded areas where the original flora is largely intact. Sometimes it is cultivated as a rock garden plant. While Sharp-Lobed Hepatica is native to North America, the typical variety of Hepatica, Hepatica nobilis nobilis, occurs in Eurasia. Faunal Associations
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Comments: Rich woods, mountains.

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

K099 Maple - basswood forest
K102 Beech - maple forest
K103 Mixed mesophytic forest
K106 Northern hardwoods
K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest

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Habitat characteristics

Sharp-lobed hepatica is found on topography that varies from gently
rolling hills to bluffs and outcroppings [3]. It occurs on soils of low
fertility and low moisture-holding capacity (e.g. sandy loam) to
calcareous moist upland woods [3,8]. Sharp-lobed hepatica is often
found on north-facing wooded slopes [8].

Species associated with sharp-lobed hepatica are those found in upland
mesic deciduous forests. Sugar maple (Acer saccharum) is often dominant
with red elm (Ulmus rubra) and basswood (Tilia americana) [20]. Of the
numerous herbaceous species, the dominant plants are eastern
springbeauty (Claytonia virginica), catchweed bedstraw (Galium aparine),
recurved wakerobin (Trillium recurvatum), common mayapple (Podophyllum
pedatum), and black snakeroot (Sanicula gregaria) [20].
  • 3. Brundrett, Mark C.; Kendrick, Bryce. 1988. The mycorrhizal status, root anatomy, and phenology of plants in a sugar maple forest. Canadian Journal of Botany. 66(6): 1153-1173. [14483]
  • 8. Gleason, Henry A. 1952. Illustrated flora of the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. Vol. 2. Choripetalous Dicotyledoneae. Lancaster, PA: Lancaster Press, Inc. 655 p. [18962]
  • 20. Struik, Gwendolyn J.; Curtis, J. T. 1962. Herb distribution in an Acer saccharum forest. American Midland Naturalist. 68(2): 285-296. [18966]

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Habitat: Ecosystem

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak - pine
FRES15 Oak - hickory
FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress
FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood
FRES18 Maple - beech - birch

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

16 Aspen
24 Hemlock - yellow birch
25 Sugar maple - beech
26 Sugar maple - basswood
27 Sugar maple
28 Black cherry - maple
60 Beech - sugar maple
108 Red maple
109 Hawthorn

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Key Plant Community Associations

Field guide to forest habitat types of northern Wisconsin [10].
  • 10. Kotar, John; Kovach, Joseph A.; Locey, Craig T. 1988. Field guide to forest habitat types of northern Wisconsin. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, Department of Forestry; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 217 p. [11510]

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Deciduous woods, often in calcareous soils; 0-1200m.
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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Sharp-Lobed Hepatica in Illinois

Hepatica acutiloba (Sharp-Lobed Hepatica)
(Bees collect pollen or explore the flowers in vain for nectar; flies feed on pollen or explore the flowers in vain for nectar; one observation is from Graenicher, otherwise they are from Robertson; Robertson thought the flowers of Hepatica offer nectar to insect visitors, but this is not correct)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera cp fq; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina calcarata exp/cp

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Lasioglossum imitatus cp/exp, Lasioglossum versatus cp/exp; Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes inaequalis cp/exp; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena carlini cp/exp, Andrena erythronii cp/exp, Andrena mandibularis cp/exp, Andrena miserabilis bipunctata cp/exp, Andrena rugosa cp/exp fq, Andrena tridens cp/exp

Flies
Syrphidae: Brachypalpus oarus fp fq, Eristalis dimidiatus fp, Eupeodes americanus fp; Bombyliidae: Bombylius major exp/fp fq (Rb, Gr); Tachinidae: Gonia capitata fp/exp; Muscidae: Neomyia cornicina exp/fp fq; Anthomyiidae: Delia platura exp/fp

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

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General Ecology

Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: caudex, severity

Fire severity and rooting depth of caudex and rhizomes control the
recovery of sharp-lobed hepatica. Surviving rhizomes probably sprout
and produce leaves postfire. Sharp-lobed hepatica grows vigorously in
sparsely vegetated areas with freed nutrients (e.g., ant hills high in
nitrogen and phosphorus) [17]. It probably will flower and produce seed
in the first postfire year. Long-term postfire recovery should be
fairly successful. Sharp-lobed hepatica reproduces vegetatively by
short rhizomes, ensuring on-site colony growth. Sexual reproduction
results in seeds that are readily transported by ants and rodents, which
ensures wide areas of dispersal [17].
  • 17. Smith, Brent H.; Forman, Paul D.; Boyd, Amy E. 1989. Spatial patterns of seed dispersal and predation of two myrmecochorous forest herbs. Ecology. 70(6): 1649-1656. [15861]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

Fire effects have not been studied on sharp-lobed hepatica. It is
probably top-killed by fire. Rhizomes probably would survive.
Seedlings most likely would be killed. If the lipid sack (eliasome)
attached to the seed burns, the seed probably dies.

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: rhizome, secondary colonizer

Rhizomatous herb, rhizome in soil
Secondary colonizer - off-site seed

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Fire Ecology

More info for the terms: caudex, resistance

Occurring in mixed mesophytic forest, sharp-lobed hepatica has evolved
with fire. The degree of resistance sharp-lobed hepatica has to fire
depends upon the protection its caudex and rhizomes receive from soil
cover.

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: climax, importance value

Obligate Climax Series

Sharp-lobed hepatica occurs in late-intermediate to early climax forests
of sugar maple (Acer saccharum), basswood (Tilia americana), yellow
birch (Betula alleghaniensis), and white ash (Fraxinus americana)
[4,20]. Daubenmire [4] also reported sharp-lobed hepatica present in
subclimax associations of red oak (Quercus rubra), white oak (Quercus
alba), and aspen (Populus tremuloides). Although an early vernal
species, it is shade tolerant. It occurs infrequently; Brundrett and
Kendrick [3] reported 0.22 percent importance value for sharp-lobed
hepatica in Ontario forests.
  • 3. Brundrett, Mark C.; Kendrick, Bryce. 1988. The mycorrhizal status, root anatomy, and phenology of plants in a sugar maple forest. Canadian Journal of Botany. 66(6): 1153-1173. [14483]
  • 4. Daubenmire, Rexford F. 1936. The "big woods" of Minnesota: its structure, and relation to climate, fire, and soils. Ecological Monographs. 6(2): 233-268. [2697]
  • 20. Struik, Gwendolyn J.; Curtis, J. T. 1962. Herb distribution in an Acer saccharum forest. American Midland Naturalist. 68(2): 285-296. [18966]

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Regeneration Processes

Sharp-lobed hepatica sprouts from short rhizomes, producing small
colonies [15,18].

Mature achenes form aggregates. Seeds are carried away from the parent
plant by ants and rodents. Ant dispersal is most successful for
establishment in young sparse populations. Seedling establishment is
low in older dense populations of sharp-lobed hepatica [17].

Seeds have epicotyl dormancy which requires a warm stratification [1].
This is followed by a cold stratification of 2 to 3 months before
cotyledons emerge [1].
  • 1. Baskin, Jerry M.; Baskin, Carol C. 1985. Epicotyl dormancy in seeds of Cimicifuga racemosa and Hepatica acutiloba. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 112(3): 253-257. [18960]
  • 15. Scoggan, H. J. 1978. The flora of Canada. Ottawa, Canada: National Museums of Canada. (4 volumes). [18143]
  • 17. Smith, Brent H.; Forman, Paul D.; Boyd, Amy E. 1989. Spatial patterns of seed dispersal and predation of two myrmecochorous forest herbs. Ecology. 70(6): 1649-1656. [15861]
  • 18. Steyermark, J. A. 1963. Flora of Missouri. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press. 1725 p. [18144]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: geophyte, hemicryptophyte

Hemicryptophyte
Geophyte

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Life Form

More info for the term: forb

Forb

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

Thick leaves are kept through the winter on this clonal perennial,
allowing photosynthesis to begin quickly in the spring before the canopy
closes [3]. With this physiological jump-start, sharp-lobed hepatica
flowers from February to June throughout its range [6,8,9,13,16,18].
After flowering, the overwintering leaves become senescent, and new
leaves are produced. The new leaves are more shade tolerant and,
therefore, more efficient at light harvesting [3]. Seeds mature
approximately 1 month after flowering [17]. Sharp-lobed hepatica
remains green when all other herbs have senesced in the fall.
  • 6. Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. [Corrections supplied by R. C. Rollins]
  • 3. Brundrett, Mark C.; Kendrick, Bryce. 1988. The mycorrhizal status, root anatomy, and phenology of plants in a sugar maple forest. Canadian Journal of Botany. 66(6): 1153-1173. [14483]
  • 8. Gleason, Henry A. 1952. Illustrated flora of the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. Vol. 2. Choripetalous Dicotyledoneae. Lancaster, PA: Lancaster Press, Inc. 655 p. [18962]
  • 9. Jones, G. N.; Fuller, G. D. 1955. Vascular plants of Illinois. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. 593 p. [18964]
  • 13. Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1183 p. [7606]
  • 16. Seymour, Frank Conkling. 1982. The flora of New England. 2d ed. Phytologia Memoirs 5. Plainfield, NJ: Harold N. Moldenke and Alma L. Moldenke. 611 p. [7604]
  • 17. Smith, Brent H.; Forman, Paul D.; Boyd, Amy E. 1989. Spatial patterns of seed dispersal and predation of two myrmecochorous forest herbs. Ecology. 70(6): 1649-1656. [15861]
  • 18. Steyermark, J. A. 1963. Flora of Missouri. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press. 1725 p. [18144]

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Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering spring.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Anemone acutiloba

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Anemone acutiloba

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T5 - Secure

Reasons: Widespread and abundant.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

Projects using sharp-lobed hepatica have not been found in the
literature. However, as a rhizomatous perennial, it could be used as a
soil stabilizer in shaded habitats.

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Nutritional Value

No food value is listed for sharp-lobed hepatica. A lipid-rich eliasome
is attached to seeds which attracts ants and rodent herbivores [17].
  • 17. Smith, Brent H.; Forman, Paul D.; Boyd, Amy E. 1989. Spatial patterns of seed dispersal and predation of two myrmecochorous forest herbs. Ecology. 70(6): 1649-1656. [15861]

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Notes

Comments

In North America, Anemone acutiloba and A . americana are sufficiently well differentiated to enable the distinction of the two species. Some intermediates do occur but it is uncertain as to whether these are true intermediates or hybrids. The fact that the two species are highly sympatric and still maintain their differences implies that they should still be recognized as distinctive species (see G.L. Stebbins 1993). 

 The two North American species formerly placed in Hepatica are closely allied to the Eurasian Anemone hepatica Linnaeus [= Hepatica nobilis Miller, Hepatica hepatica (Linnaeus) Karst]. Among European collections, plants approach either A . acutiloba or A . americana in leaf morphology, but some intermediates are found (J. A. Steyermark and C. S. Steyermark 1960). North American plants differ from A . hepatica in having narrower sepals, larger involucral bracts, and shorter and less pubescent scapes. Further research, including a comparative study of breeding systems, is needed to clarify the relationship between Anemone hepatica , A . acutiloba , and A . americana . Pending such work, the eastern North American hepaticas are here recognized as distinct species.

D. E. Moerman (1986) lists Hepatica acutiloba as one of the plants used medicinally by Native Americans in the treatment of abdominal pains, poor digestion, and constipation, as a wash for "twisted mouth or crossed eyes," and as a gynecological aid.

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

More info for the term: fern

The currently accepted scientific name of sharp-lobed hepatica is
Hepatica acutiloba DC. There has been disagreement in the literature
about retaining this name. Steyermark and Steyermark [19] synonymized
this entity as a form of Hepatica nobilis Schreb. var. acuta. However,
other authors do not agree [6,16].

Five recognized forms are based on differences in leaf lobes and sepal
color [6]:

Hepatica acutiloba f. acutiloba R. Hoffm.
Hepatica acutiloba f. diversiloba Raymond
Hepatica acutiloba f. albiflora R. Hoffm.
Hepatica acutiloba f. rosea R. Hoffm.
Hepatica acutiloba f. plena Fern.
  • 6. Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. [Corrections supplied by R. C. Rollins]
  • 16. Seymour, Frank Conkling. 1982. The flora of New England. 2d ed. Phytologia Memoirs 5. Plainfield, NJ: Harold N. Moldenke and Alma L. Moldenke. 611 p. [7604]
  • 19. Steyermark, J. A.; Steyermark, C. S. 1960. Hepatica in North America. Rhodora. 62: 223-232. [18965]

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Common Names

sharp-lobed hepatica
sharp-lobed liverleaf

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Synonyms

Hepatica nobilis Schreb. var. acuta

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