hepatica (hĭpătˈĭkə) [key] or liverleaf, any plant of the genus Hepatica of the family Ranunculaceae (buttercup family), low, woodland, spring wildflowers of the north temperate zone, popular for wild gardens. The delicate blossoms, of shades of lavender, pink, and blue, may appear while there is still snow; the three-lobed leaves persist through winter. Hepaticas were formerly used as a domestic remedy. Although often called liverworts, they are unrelated to the primitive plants commonly called liverworts that are classified with the mosses in the division Bryophyta. Hepatica is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Ranunculales, family Ranunculaceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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