English Name—COMMON LIVERWORT.
French Name—Hepatique trilobe.
Vulgar Names—Liverweed, Trefoil, Noble Liverwort.
Synonym—Anemone hepatica Linn. &c.
Authorities—Linn. Schoepf, Pursh, Torrey, Eaton, Hereford, &c.
Genus HEPaTICA—Involucre caliciform, near the flower, persistent, three parted. Perigone corolliform, with six to nine oblong petals. Many short Stamina. Many pistils, Styles short. Seeds awnless achenes.
Species H. TRILOBA—Leaves radical, cordate, three lobed, lobes entire, petioles and scapes equal in length and hairy, scapes uniflora, flowers drooping before the anthesis and pilose.
Description—Root perennial, fibrose, fibres long fasciculate, brown. Leaves all radical, on long hairy petioles, somewhat leathery and partly persistent in winter, base cordate, divided into three equal entire lobes, rounded, obtuse or acute, with obtuse or acute sinuses, nearly smooth, mottled of olivaceous and purplish above, glaucous and purplish beneath. Several scapes equal in length to the petiols, upright, four to eight inches long, invested at the base with several membranaceous sheaths, hairy, round, bearing a single flower.
Flowers terminal, drooping at first, spreading when unfolded. Involucre resembling a calix, very hairy, hairs grey and long, segments very deep, oval, entire, obtuse. Perigone like a Corolla bluish, purplish or white, sepals elliptic obtuse, equal, but in two or three series. Filaments subulate, anthers elliptic, pale yellow. Pistils and seeds oval, acute.
Locality—A boreal plant, native of the northern parts of Europe, Asia and America, spreading in this last continent from Labrador to Virginia and the Pacific Ocean, common in woods, hills and mountains of the United States from New England to Kentucky.
History—A pretty vernal plant, the leaves stand the winter, and early in the spring the flowers come out, even when snow is yet falling: they last from March to May, are rather pretty and deserving cultivation. The varieties are 1. Albiflora. 2. Acutiloba. 3. Parviflora, flowers half the usual size and blue. In Kentucky, perhaps a peculiar species.
Tournefort established this genus, Linnaeus wrongly blended it with Anemone, it has again been separated lately. The name derives from its hepatic properties. It belongs to the Natural Order of ADNATES or Ranunculaceous, and to Polyandria polygynia.
Qualities—Scentless and nearly insipid, not bitter; but a little astringent and mucilaginous. It contains tannin, mucilage, extractive, &c.
Properties—Subtonic, subastringent, hepatic, deobstruent, pectoral, demulcent. It was known to the ancients as a medical plant, and Linnaeus has it in his Materia Medica; but it had fallen into disuse, its properties being very mild. It was formerly used in fevers, liver complaints, indigestion, cachexy, hypochondria and hernia. It has lately been brought to notice in America for hemoptysis and coughs, it has been used in Virginia with benefit in the form of a strong infusion, drunk cold. It may be serviceable in hepatisis and hepatic phthisis, as well as all complaints arising from dyspepsia and hypochondric affections; it may be used as a tea, warm or cold and adlibitum; but it has no effect on the lungs beyond that of a mild demulcent astringent.
Substitutes—Agrimonia—Geum Sp.—Lycopus Virginicus—Tussilago—Symphytum—Leontodon taraxacum or Dandelion,—Sisymbrium, or Water Cresses, &c.
Medical Flora, or Manual of the Medical Botany of the United States of North America, 1828, was written by C. S. Rafinesque.