Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hepatica in Bloom

And so begins another year of Wildflower watching. The plants of Hepatica acutiloba (or Liver Leaf as they're never called,) I acquired from Prairie Moon Nursery and Prairie Nursery are doing well. I believe most of these are from Prairie Nursery which were slightly larger than the plugs I got from Prairie Moon. But they've also had an additional year to establish. Likewise I'm not entirely certain I've planted them in the correct type of soil. A lot of our ephemeral plants do best where the leaf litter has naturally mulched into good soil. Decades of raking out the gardens probably isn't doing them any favors. (I've also planted ~80 Trilliums this year, so we'll see how those do.)

Up close this is one of the most charming wildflowers you'll meet. Six nice little petals glistening in the sun. And on occasion you'll find a mason bee working one. Honeybees do work these but only in mass plantings that can take years to establish. Flowers only produce pollen so they're not a big hit with Honeybees. Blooming seems to happen just after the earliest Crocuses have faded but by then the Willows are out and other types of trees like Maple, non-native Magnolias which may be offering up nectar as well. 

Hepatica comes in a variety of colors, though white is certainly the most common. By luck I've been given a few pink ones but I don't find these to be as pretty. Many of them have a big green stigma in the middle and I find the color combination unappealing. Darker shades of lavender and even a solid blue look a little better. Actually the solid blue ones I treasure above all else but none seem to have flowered and I won't even know if they survived the winter until they produce new leaves for the year.

One of the white ones appears to be a double flowering type. Instead of the standard 6 petals I count 10.

Others have 11 so it would seem to vary somewhat.

My goal with this plant is to finally get some plants that produce viable seed so I can see what ants like dispersing the seeds. In past years I've had plants make seed but the ants never bothered with them. I suspect poor pollination had lead to inadequate eliasome production; that is, the packet of ant food on the seed wasn't of a quality to the ants liking. Probably due to poor pollination.