Hepatica falconeri, or Anemone falconeri, is by some suggested to be the link between Hepatica and Anemone. No matter the name, this plant has for a long period been the “Hepatica” species that’s impossible to find in any seed- or plant lists, or in any collections at all. And as far as I know mostly no botanical gardens had this species in their collections.
"The shapes of involucral bracts, pistils and achenes of Hepatica falconeri are more similar to H. nobilis than Anemone flaccida, but the radical leaves resemble those of A. flaccida in shape. In the Anemone species, new leaves emerge first, from subterranean stems, and then flowering begins. In H. falconeri, the flowers appear first, and new leaves then develop as in other Hepatica species. H. falconeri has the chromosome number 2n = 14. The chromosome complement consists of six pairs of median- and one pair of subterminal-centromeric chromosomes bearing satellites, a karyotype which is similar to that of the Japanese Hepatica nobilis var. japonica. The chromosome number of 2n = 14 for H. falconeri is reported here for the first time. These results indicate that H. falconeri is better placed in Hepatica than in Anemone" - (Kew Bulletin © 2002 Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew)
I first became aware of this species back in the very beginning of this millennium. Back then I read an article that described the rarity of this plant. If I remember correctly it was also because its natural location was included in an area with political conflicts and war. Even if I’ve been looking out for this plant since I read about it the first time, it was first in 2012 I finally got in contact with a person that said he could provide me some fresh seeds. I have to say I had some doubts this could be the real thing. But, at the same time I heard there had been offered a few plants at plant markets in Germany the same year – so at least there were a tiny chance it was correct. Then, in early spring 2013 I had three pots full of Hepatica folconeri seedlings. I almost got the feeling I had more seedlings than seeds sown, so for sure there must have been close to 100% germination.
Now as we have some years of experience with keeping this species in cultivation, we can without any doubt state that this plant does very well in our climate. We also kept some plants in the alpine house to produce seeds. The result was that in addition to the seeds we collected, we had Hepatica falconeri seedlings popping up the strangest places in the benches.
Even if I’m not very much into “man made hybrids”, I’ve been thinking of try to cross H. falconeri with H. tanssilvanica. H. falconeri has a chromosome number of 2n=14 (diploid), whereas transsilvanica has 2n=28 (tetraploid). Then a cross should give triploids, so it shouldn’t be impossible.
A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to study H. falconeri in wild. First of all I could confirm that my plants grown from seeds are the true species. Secondly I got some clear ideas how to cultivate this plant successfully. Like H. transsilvanica it is almost without exception growing together with rocks in half to full shade. The locality I found it was growing in and around small cliffs in spruce forrest (Picea schrenkiana). Some of the plants grew almost without any compost in crevices and pockets in the rocks. There were almost no variation in leaf and flower shape or color.
We used my experience and impressions from this natural location as inspiration when we selected the spot to plant out a number of young plants in our own garden this year (2019).
To be continued!