If you've ever read about non-vascular plants, you probably know, or at least are familiar with, liver plants. They are much less numerous and popular bryophyte plants than mosses, which are much more colorful and easy to see. However, these small and primitive plants deserve their share of recognition.
If you want to learn more about this interesting botanical topic, join us in this Green Ecologist article in which we talk in detail about what are liver plants, their characteristics, types and examples.
As we have just said, the first thing to mention about liverworts is that they belong to the class of bryophyte plants, being non-vascular plants, that is, without a vascular system that is responsible for the transport and conduction of nutrients and substances internally.
They are also called Hepaticophytas, Marchantiophytas or Hepaticae, although the usual thing is to call them simply hepatic. They get their name from the resemblance that some of these small plants bear with the kidney, which is why they were used in the Middle Ages to treat ailments of this organ.
We recommend that you consult this other post on Bryophyte Plants: examples and characteristics if you want more information on this topic.
These are the main characteristics of liver plants:
There are two big types of liver plants, the foliose and the taloses:
They are the most common of all: a good part of them are part of this type. Their main defining characteristic is that they have a thallus that acts as the axis for the filidia, foliose-type structures. The most common and well-known group is that of the Jungermanniales. The characteristic liver shape of many foliose is the reason for the name liverworts that the whole genus receives.
They do not develop false leaves or foliose structure. They grow in a ribbon-like structure in a flat shape, which may or may not branch out. Simple and complex talose are distinguished among them.
At first glance, many liverworts are so similar to mosses or hornworts that microscopic observation or great experience is required to be able to distinguish them.
Here are some names of liver plants so that it is easier for you not only to find specific information about them, but also to facilitate their recognition.
It belongs to the Marchantiaceae family, whose most notable characteristic is its intense green color. Some specimens of this species can reach up to 30 cm. They usually grow in mountainous regions and use a rock to anchor themselves and thus achieve a greater reserve of moisture.
From the Jubulaceae family, it is also characterized by its green color and its irregular branches. It usually grows at the base of trees or other plants in the process of decomposition. Always look for an area with a great contribution of nutrients and humidity because it is not a very vulnerable species.
Lunalaria, of the Lunulariaceae family, is a medium-sized and very resistant species. So much so that it can grow on apparently complicated surfaces such as ravines or occur in flat areas, yes, always close to the constant presence of water. It is also characterized by having an almost translucent green pigment, which makes it easy to identify.
Finally, the lejeuna of the Lejeuneaceae family, has an intense green color and is smaller in size than the other species in the previous example. This usually grows on the surface of the leaves or on the bark of trees. It prefers areas with good light and airy, even so it is quite resistant to humidity.
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