Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Purple plant ID
Hepatica Americana or Round Lobed Hepatica blooms from mid-March through April. This plant has hairy flower stalks that emerge from last year's burgundy-brown tinted leaves. New leaves appear only after the flowers bloom.
Light blue to lavender or white flowers are easy to find in the forest litter, 1 inch across, on 8-inch tall stalks. The flowers have numerous stamens, are without true petals, the petal-like 5-9 sepals surrounded by 3 bracts. Round-lobed Hepatica grows in dry or moist upland woods.
Interestingly the leaves were used for liver disease by early medical practitioners who subscribed to the practice that the shape of the plant would dictate what part of the body they were able to cure. The liver-like shape of the leaves made hepatica a shoo-in to be used as a diuretic and as an astringent. I can find no theory as to whether or not it worked. So, just a side note, if you want to practice any early settler medicine, note that the leaves are poisonous, so I would not overdose my patients.
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