I'll see your moss, TM, and raise you one liverwort!

I loved TM's last post, Moss, so when I went out for a walk, I took special pleasure in all the mosses that abound in the mountains here. On the slope below our driveway I noticed the above tiny umbrellas and at first thought they were the fruiting or sexual bodies of the surrounding moss, but you can see they arise from fleshier looking bases - they are a liverwort, but I'm not sure which one.

Those little umbrellas are called archegoniophores, now how's that for a term. And if you want a LOT more juicy botanical terms, visit this professor's lecture notes*. There are male and female liverworts, each having umbrella-like receptacles for sexual reproduction. All bryophytes (mosses, liverworts, and hornworts) have a two-stage lifecycle - as do ferns - which I find fascinating. They have a whole phase when they are tiny things quite unlike the form we are familiar with. Sometime I want to sit for an hour and learn more about that, but today I'm posting quickly before work so I don't have that info to share.

We have a lot of sandstone around here, and the road was cut through it here and there, creating shady, mossy cliffs. So shady it's hard to get a good picture. Here's a picture of a mossy cliff wall where dudleya are growing.

I am hoping to propagate them, but so far, no luck on that front. I have to catch them at the right time. I'm not sure what type they are. They sort of look like Dudleya farinosa, bluff lettuce, but are not so fleshy (and are not on a bluff exactly!), or Dudleya cymosa, canyon dudleya, but they are pointier. Any ideas, anyone?

At least five different types of ferns also grow among the mosses (and elsewhere) in our vicinity, and I want to post about those in more detail later this month, but most commonly on the mossy walls you'll see polypody, Polipodium californicum.

(Dim light makes it hard to get a nice sharp picture).

The glow of mosses on the trees is hard to catch in a picture. I'll close with this snap of the oaks near our corral, which leaves most of the glow to your imagination.

Bryophytes are indeed restful, peaceful, strange plants to contemplate. My resolution for the weekend is to learn more about them, and to determine which ones commonly grow around here.

* Koning, Ross E. 1994. Bryophytes: Liverworts. Plant Physiology Information Website. (2-19-2010).


Christine said…
That liverwort is pretty special! What a great photo. I'm surprised you have Dudleyas in the shade (sorry, I don't have an ID suggestion), but I figured they were sun lovers. Cool!
Town Mouse said…
Fascinating! Wikipedia actually has a very cool article at Who knew there are 6000 - 8000 species of Marchantiophytia?
How beautiful! I don't think I've noticed any liverwort here, yet. Although we certainly do have an over-abundance of moss at the moment. Definitely something else to keep my eyes open for!
I liked the 'moss' post, this liverwort is really neat. Also love the fern, growing out of a tree, is it? (Can't quite tell from the photo...age does strange things to your (my) eyes;-)
Oh, I love your liverwort. How architectural and so green.
Kate said…
I've never heard of liverwort so this was very special. I love the mossy trees, too. :))
I'm happy to read about this as I'm experimenting with bryophytes myself. It may comfort you to know that my friend, a moss expert and botanist with the forest service, finds it difficult to i.d. many mosses without a microscope.
wiseacre said…
Nice shot of the liverwort. I always enjoy a macro view of the things that usually go unnoticed.