Sunday, June 20, 2010


Again I have combined the fern foray with the Cathedral State Park walk to show some of the liverworts found in the area around Blackwater Falls.  I live in the eastern panhandle and it is relatively dry so I don't think we have as many different liverworts as found in Tucker County. But I could be wrong since I am just beginning to recognize this interesting plant. I think I have been mistaking it for moss. Liverworts are small delicate plants that are related to mosses and together they are referred to as bryophytes. They share a similar life cycle. Liverworts may have leaves but the leaves are not in spirals like a moss but most often are in two rows and flat like.  As I see and learn more names of liverworts I will learn more of their life history, otherwise it is all theory to me. I need to really see the parts to better understand what is going on so as I learn I will share more information. In the meantime I am enthralled by the variety that I am seeing.

I have been using "Outstanding Mosses and Liverworts of Pennsylvania and Nearby States" by Susan Munch as a guide. I don't currently know of any other guides that are affordable.  I have found that if I look at enough photos and read about them, I am then able to recognize one when I see it and have some idea where to look.

Bazzania trilobata (Common Bazzania liverwort)

The branching pattern into two equal pieces in a Y-shape has helped me to remember this liverwort. It is not like some of the other liverworts in that it almost grows upright forming a thick matt. They can be found in moist shaded ravines near a continuous supply of water like a creek. I think I have found it on a large rock near the Shennadoah River but I haven't confirmed that yet.

Nowellia curvifolia (Rusty Nowellia liverwort)

This liverwort forms a matt on old logs with it's reddish color in the cooler months of the year. In the summer it is green but since Cathedral State Park is high elevation and cool it was still red when I took this photo. Susan Munch wrote, "Though most leafes of liverworts are flatted in one plane, Nowllia leaves are so curved that they stand out around the stems".  Sue Studler told us that it was named after a nineteenth century British amateur bryologist.  

Closer look at Nowellia curvifolia (Rusty Nowellia liverwort)

Pallavicinia lyellii (Ribbonwort liverwort)

The thallus (leaf like structure) is about a fifth of an inch wide and an inch or two long. I think the little bumps on the midrib of the leaves are the egg producing organs. They grow on the banks of small shaded streams and on rotting logs across spring runs or seeps.

Scapania undulata (Water earwort)

This was growing on a rock at the edge of the stream that flowed through Cathedral State Park.

Closer view of Scapania undulata (Water earwort)

Conocephalum conicum (Alligator or snake skin liverwort)

We found this one along the river while on the fern walk. It is the biggest liverwort I saw that weekend.

Here you can see the snakeskin like look on this Conocephalum conicum.

So that's it for now until I find and learn more about this interesting little plant.

1 comment:

MyMaracas said...

How fascinating! I wonder if we have liverworts in our wet areas. Next time I'm back there, I'll keep an eye out.