Hepatica (Hepatica americana) is a resident of deciduous forests that goes largely unnoticed due to its size and early flowering period. In most cases flowering stalks of this plant only reach 2-3" barely enough to poke out of dense leaf litter on the forest floor. The tiny flowers can range in color from purple to blue to white and consist of six petals and a yellowish pistil surrounded by numerous yellow stamens. Leaf margins can be either pointed or rounded.
Another early bloomer in eastern Ohio is the non-native Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara). A native to northern Europe, this small wildflower was brought to America by European settlers and over time has naturally integrated into the landscape. Coltsfoot is abundant along roadsides, in waste areas and on south facing rocky slopes and resembles a dandelion with a thick stalk. The flower is the first part of the plant to emerge with leaves following after blooming. Coltsfoot can spread quickly by way of creeping underground rhizomes and by seeds that are dispersed by wind.
|Coltsfoot on a well exposed south facing slope. Note the lack|
of any leaves which will emerge after the flowers mature. Seems
to prefer dry, rocky soils.
|Hepatica blooming in the final week of winter, 2004.|
Look for this perennial on sunny slopes that are
moist with a good layer of topsoil