December 16 2012 - First Place Tie
January 28 2012
Searching for the first wildflowers of the year is one of the highlights of early spring. In eastern North America, one of the most delightful early blooming species is hepatica (Hepatica nobilis). Its bright blue, white, or pink flowers warm the hearts of all who see them, as they shimmer in the rays of sunshine that reaches the forest floor thru the branches of the leafless trees of earliest springtime. The flowers may not fully open on a rainy day but even on cloudy days it is still quite a thrill to come across the subtle elegance of the partially opened flowers heralding the opening of the new season. The flowers have a fresh, delicate scent, their fragrance promises that spring is just around the corner.
Hepatica nobilis is a small evergreen herb found growing in rich woodlands from Minnesota to Maine to Northern Florida west to Alabama and Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec as far as to the east coast. The flowers are most commonly blue or lavender, although white forms may be common locally, especially in southern areas, and there may be various shades of pink. Each flower comes up from the ground on its own stem, which is covered by long fine hairs and is several inches tall. What appear to be the petals are technically the sepals and three bracts surround each flower. The number of sepals on each flower usually varies between six and twenty. Occasionally, complete double forms are found. Older plant form clumps with twenty to thirty or more flowers. The flowers open their fullest on sunny days and the floral display lasts for several weeks. After the petals fall the new leaves emerge, each one at first neatly furled, then shiny and bright fresh green as they first open, then darkening as they mature. The leaves are heart shaped at the base and have three lobes. Some variations of the species may have speckled leaves or may be maroon on the undersides. Over the winter, the leaves darken even more and are hardly noticeable.
Taken: May 2 2011
Kitchener, Ontario, Canada