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Feb 2006 HEPATICA
N. Walker

Considerable color variation may be observed from plant to plant, ranging from white to pale blue. Each plant usually produces several flowers, each of the same color. Groups of dozens or hundreds of plants may sometimes cover much of a wooded hillside. Hepaticas are attacked by the late spore stages of a rust fungus. Because earlier stages of this rust attack fruit such as almond, cherry, plum, peach, and apricot, hepatica is often kept away from orchards. There is another similar North American species, the round lobe hepatica. The two species are distinguished from each other by the shape of the leaves: round lobe hepatica has rounded lobes instead of the sharp lobed hepatica more common to North Alabama.