Series: Images of a botanical trip to the Free State of Thuringia (German: Freistaat Thüringen) in Germany from 15 - 19/04/2011
Hepatica nobilis (NL: Leverbloempje/ EN: Liverwort / DE: Leberblümchen) is native to woodlands of temperate Asia and Europe. The flowers are an exquisite violet-blue, occasionally white or pinkish, and are produced in February to May. Each individual flower is supported by a hairy, leafless stem, perhaps reaching 10cm in height. The leaves of Hepatica nobilis are basal and have a leathery texture. The leaves remain on the plant throughout the winter, and the old leaves only begin to die back in the late spring after new foliage has begun to emerge. Leaves are dark green, often turning reddish with age, and have distinctive lobed edges. Common names for this plant are mostly based on the colour and shape of the leaves. The association with liver extends beyond the common name. The genus Hepatica is derived from the Greek word 'hepar', meaning 'liver'. This refers to the leaves, as well to the medieval belief, based on the 'Doctrine of Signatures', that a plant with liver-like leaves would be useful in treating liver aliments. Hepatica nobilis is still used for medicinal purposes today. Hepatica nobilis is myrmecochorous, meaning it relies on ants for seed dispersal. The seeds have special ant-attracting appendages called elaisomes. These appendages are often rich in nutrients. The ants collect the seeds, then take them to their nests. Once the elaisomes have been eaten, the rest of the seed (which is still intact and viable) is discarded and is able to germinate in its new location.
Image: Mühlberg (DE) - 16/04/2011
© Johan Dierckx
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All species are photographed in their natural habitat, without cutting or capturing them, and with maximal respect and the least possible disturbance to the environment.
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