Sharp-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica nobilis var. acuta)

I like Hepatica so much, I planted some in a planter on my balcony. They finally bloomed!

I planted this in one of my large planters on my west-facing balcony. I don’t remember when or where I purchased it but I thought it was dead. It could be Anemone americana which is often found in the Sourland Mountains. The first time I encountered hepatica was when I saw round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica americana) in 2015.

But I was unsure which variety, Hepatica acutiloba (sometimes treated as H. nobilis var. acuta) or round-lobed hepatica, Hepatica americana (sometimes treated as H. nobilis var. obtusa). Hepatica acutiloba and Hepatica americana are both perennial herbaceous plant that typically grows in woodland habitats (like the Sourland Mountains). Hepatica acutiloba produces white, pink, or purple flowers in early spring while Hepatica americana produces white, pink, or blue flowers in early spring.

From what I have read online, Hepatica nobilis var. acuta and Hepatica nobilis var. obtusa are two varieties of the same species. The main difference lies in their leaf morphology. Var. acuta has sharply pointed lobes on its leaves, while var. obtusa has rounded or obtuse lobes. Additionally, var. acuta is often found in more northern regions, while var. obtusa is more common in southern areas. Both varieties produce similar white, pink, or blue flowers in early spring.

sharp-lobed hepatica (Hepatica nobilis var. acuta)
Sharp-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica nobilis var. acuta) · 25 April 2024 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR

Based on the macro photographs of the leaves I think this is Hepatica nobilis var. acuta aka sharp-lobed hepatica.

Shrubby St. John's Wort

Hypericum prolificum, or Shrubby St. John's Wort, is a visually captivating shrub with its bright yellow flowers.

I photographed the flowers of Shrubby St. John's Wort (Hypericum prolificum) during a tour of the large meadow at Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve in New Hope, Pennsylvania.

St. John's Wort is a perennial shrub indigenous to the central and eastern regions of the United States and Ontario. Its habitat is diverse - slopes, thickets, swamp edges, and oak woodlands. Our tour guide explained that St. John's Wort is a shrub that can reach heights up to 2 meters (6 feet 7 inches). Its leaves are elliptic to oblanceolate, and the flowerheads display a captivating array of 1 to 9 flowers. These flowers have five golden yellow petals and numerous stamens.

I learned that in its naturally mounded form, Shrubby St. John's Wort leaves can be easily pruned into a pleasing, rounded shape in early spring. This shrub comes alive throughout the summer with yellow flowers, attracting many pollinators. Its brown, 3-chambered seed capsules persist even in winter, providing food for winter birds and adding late-season visual interest.

Shrubby St. John's Wort's growth rate is slow but blooms from June through September. It loves full sun and can flourish in nearly any soil, including the heavy clay in my area near Rocky Hill. Remarkably drought-tolerant, it also has the advantage of being resistant to rabbits and deer. I need to find a way to plant this in my small garden.

Shrubby St. John's Wort plays a crucial role as a larval host plant for several species of butterflies and moths, including the Gray Hairstreak butterfly and the Wavy-lined Emerald moth.

Queen Anne's Lace

"wildflower" isn't just another name for native flowers.

This summer, I learned that "wildflower" isn't just a another name for native flowers.

A wildflower, it turns out, is a flowering plant that hasn't been messed with genetically. It's a flower that grows without anyone planting it on purpose. You'll find them popping up in the woods, meadows, mountains, and anywhere they've adapted to grow.

I see a lot of different flowers when I'm hiking in the woods. Some are native, and some are non-native. Native plants are the desired ones because they do more than look pretty. They're food for animals (us included), help keep the air clean, and stop the soil from washing away. They fit into their ecosystem so well that they don't usually spread beyond the edge of what the ecosystem can handle.

Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) is one of the non-native wildflowers I often see around the Sourland Mountain area. Originally from the Old World's temperate regions, it probably got here thanks to the Dutch farmers who settled here in the 17th century.

Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota)
Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) · Saturday 19 August 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 · XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR

These flowers aren't showy – just small and dull white bunched together. They bloom from May to September. And as the seeds get ready, the edge of the bunch curls up and goes all concave. Once they dry up, they break off and roll around like tumbleweeds.