The hepatica blooms in Swedish forests between April and May, meaning it is one of the earliest spring flowers to bloom in Sweden, even popping up through the snow in some areas.
The latin name for blisters is anemone hepatica, and they also go by the name common hepatica, liverwort or pennywort in English.
It is most common in southern Sweden, although it does grow as far north as southern Norrland.
The hepatica is a protected flower in all of Sweden, meaning that you can’t dig it up or pick the flowers, so you won’t see the small blue flowers for sale in florists or garden centres.
In some areas, the rules are even stricter. In Halland, Skåne, Stockholm and Västerbotten counties, and parts of Västra Götaland county, you are not allowed to remove or damage the flowers or even collect its seeds.
The name hepatica is a compound made up of the word for blue, blue, and the word sipwhich is the Swedish name for plants in the Anemone genus, which are related to buttercups and sometimes referred to in English as windflowers.
Other common plants in this genus you may also come across in Sweden are white hoppers (literally: “white sippor“, known in English as wood anemones), and jaundice (“yellow sip“, known in English as yellow anemone, yellow wood anemone, or buttercup anemone).
From left: backsippor (pasqueflowers), jaundice (wood anemones), and blisters (anemone hepatica, also known as common hepatica, liverwort or pennywort). Photo: Jurek Holzer/SvD/Scanpix
The word sip can be traced back to the Finland-Swedish word for wood anemone used in the Nyland or Uusimaa region of Finland: soaps. This in turn comes from the French word chapelborrowed into Swedish from the German shelf or scoopwhich means “crown of flowers”, “diadem”, “royal crown” or “bridal crown”.
In popular culture, blisters are perhaps most well-known as the official flower of the nationalist Sweden Democrats political party since 2006. The flowers are also blue and yellow, the same colours as the Swedish flag.
Almost all of Sweden’s political parties have historically had official flowers, and some still do, such as the Social Democrats’ red rose, the Left Party’s red carnation, the Centre Party’s four-leaf clover and the Green’s dandelion.
The Christian Democrats had a wood anemone or wood anemone prior to 2017 and the Liberals had a cornflower prior to 2016. The Moderates are the only party without an official flower, choosing instead a blue letter M as their party symbol.
There is also a popular Swedish children’s song about blisters, The blåsippan out on the slopes is standing, about children picking blisters in the spring and running home to their mother, saying that they no longer have to wear shoes or socks because spring has now arrived.
“Blueberries don’t catch colds,” their mother says, telling them they still have to wear shoes and socks as it’s still winter.
Can you pick bluebells?
Are you allowed to pick blisters?
No, blåsippers are protected in Sweden.
No, blisters are protected in Sweden.
Villa, Volvo, Vovve: The Local’s Word Guide to Swedish Life, written by The Local’s journalists, is available to order. Head to lysforlag.com/vvv to read more about it.
It is also possible to buy your copy from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Books or Ad libris.
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