Round-Lobed Hepatica:
An Ethereal Touch

By William T. Hathaway

Round-Lobed Hepatica (Hepatica americana)

While clicking through the list of PittPaths photos and dredging up pleasant memories past, there was within me a feeling that something was missing. Sure enough, the problem was soon resolved; one of the hand-drawn pictures of the Hepatica (see image at lower right) sent me off on a search for my colorful photo of the species. What? — There ain't such a picture to be found in the whole article index!… Not only had I overlooked one of my most favorite early spring wildflowers, but I had left out what John Burroughs had called the “gem of the woods.”

Of course, I got busy and added these colorful photographs from my slide collection. Hikers nowadays who wander into Pittsylvania County's unspoiled woodland ravines may still enjoy sighting this hardy little nonpareil. Let seekers brook no delay, since it blooms quite early (late February to mid-May) in Pittsylvania County.

(Also see these photographs in larger format.)

Round-Lobed Hepatica

Botanists call this illustrated species the “Round-Lobed Hepatica.” To me there is something ethereal in the warm touch of purple unfolding on a cool early spring forest floor — such is the gift of the hepatica to our senses. As warmer springtime takes over, the former touch of purple may transform into a cluster of dainty flowers suffused with other shades of purple, lavender, blue or pinkish white.