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NZ Plants

Leafy liverworts 1: Variety of forms

The leafy liverworts are by far the largest group of liverworts. With over 5,500 species, they exhibit a wide variety of forms.

Irregular to forked branching

Leiomitra lanata (syn., Trichocolea lanata). The stems are up to 5 cm long and irregularly branched.
(Photo, I MacDonald)

Leiomitra lanata - The stem of this liverwort branches at irregular intervals and at various orientations. 

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Regular branching patterns

Lepidogyna hodgsoniae (syn., Lepidolaena hodgsoniae), from above - The leaves are covered with a dense mass of fine hairs (cilia) believed to aid in the absorption and retention of water. This liverwort is found in cool, moist areas throughout New Zealand.
(Photo, Bill and Nancy Malcolm)

Lepidogyna hodgsoniae (syn., Lepidolaena hodgsoniae) - Some liverworts form branches left and right and on one plane, creating a pinnate (herringbone) pattern with distinctive ranks or hierarchies of branching

Cushion forming

Isotachis intortifolia - If a plug is removed from a cushion the inner region is seen to be composed of decaying stems and leaves, rich in humus and able to retain water.

Isotachis intortifolia - Many liverworts form closely-spaced, erect stems up to 90 mm long. Their continued growth results in thick, dense cushions. 

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Tiny forms

Colura saccophylla - Plants growing on the stem of the moss Dendroligotrichum
(Photo, Bill and Nancy Malcolm)

Colura saccophylla, growing on a stem of the moss Dendroligotrichum dendroides. - This liverwort has stems only a few mm long and leaves 0.4 mm across. 

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Giant forms

Plagiochila stephensoniana - A large liverort 12-25 cm tall
(Photo, L Jensen)

Plagiochila stephensoniana- Some liverworts have stems up to 15 cm tall which in turn branch several times to form large 'fronds'.  (photo, Iain MacDonald)   More on this group of liverworts

More on this group of liverworts