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NZ Plants

Leafy liverworts 2: Leaf characteristics

Liverwort leaves are one cell layer in thickness, lack a midrib (nerve) and are arranged in 2 - 3 rows. The leaves are often lobed or toothed and may have fine hair-like cilia on their margins or tip.There is a great variety in the way leaves are arranged on the stem, their form and their colour.

Arrangement of leaves on the stem

(photo, L Jensen)

Bazzania adnexa - The ventral surface (underside) of the stem bears a row of short underleaves. Seen behind them in this photo are two rows of long, overlapping leaves which are attached to the dorsal surface (upperside). The leaf tips bear small blunt teeth usually in groups of three.  

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(photo, Bill & Nancy Malcolm)

Telaranea sp. - Seen from below, there are three rows of very similar, delicate leaves, each of which has four fine cilia.  More on this group of liverworts 

The form of leaves

Frullania apiculata - This is a view of the underleaves showing the slit at the free end of each leaf that is characteristic of Frullania species. Small lobules are attached to the underside of the lateral leaves. Scanning electron microscope (SEM).
(photo, Matt von Konrat)

Frullania aterrima - The leaves of some liverworts are deeply cut into two segments. The outlines of individual cells on each leaf are clearly seen in this scanning electron microscope (SEM)

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(photo, L Jensen)

Lepidolaena taylorii - Some liverworts form lobules of various shapes attached to underside of their leaves.

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Gackstroemia sp. aff. weindorferi -  The cellular detail of the lobules and cilia are clearly shown
(photo, J Braggins)

Gackstroemia alpina - The leaf lobules of many liverworts bear cilia (hairs) on their margins.

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The colour of leaves

Jamesoniella monodon - Stems are up to 3 cm long, seldom branched and have ovate leaves with entire margins. Underleaves are not formed which is unusual for a liverwort. Common throughout New Zealand up to 1,000 m.
(photo, Cortwa Hooijmaijers)

Jamesoniella colorata - A leafy liverwort that commonly has red pigments in its new growth.

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Lepidolaena taylorii - Stem leaves are larger than those of the branches and are overlapping, somewhat squarrose with smooth margins except for cilia at the leaf base.
(photo, L Jensen)

Lepidolaena taylorii - This leafy liverwort often has a very dark pigmentation when exposed to strong light. 

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