Saturday, December 8, 2012

A BIG Liverwort

i haven't talked too much about liverworts, but they're no less deserving than mosses...Many of them are tiny and difficult to identify like the cephalozias..or somewhat bigger and harder to identify (i'm thinking Lophozias here). But there are a few that are very recognizable in the field....and Conocephalum conicum is one of our largest thalloid liverworts. It loves wet soil along streams, under ledges and over rocks next to waterfalls. It grows in overlapping, flat mats. It rather looks like green snake skin.

A close up of the thallus shows that it has little polygonal markings on the surface (which give it it's distinctive snakeskin-like appearance...and that in the center of each polygon is a dot. These dots are pores which lead into air chambers. Conocephalum is part of a group of liverworts that have a multi-layered, or complex,  thallus - small epidermal (surface) cells and larger interior cells. It is quite aromatic and emits a spicy-fragrant scent when the fresh plant is crushed.
   This liverwort is dioecious, which is a fancy word meaning that it has separate male and female plants. the plant above is can tell by the small, brown circular patches at the end of the branches.
The next time you're in a wet area, look for this conspicuous liverwort.


  1. Ah, wonderful! I have a very short list of liverworts I have names for, and I've seen this one. So I think I can recognize it again. Thanks for posting it, Sue!

  2. I call this liverwort "lizardwort" because of its leaves that look like scaly skin. Another accessible liverwort is the Frulania that makes its dark spidery presence known on hundreds of trees in the woods. Nice photos!

  3. Thanks for the blog, very helpful in the identification of the flat thallus liverwort we found down in Colrain.