I swear the person who named liverwort wasn’t thinking how they’d handle themselves on the playground. I mean really, “liver” and “wort”! His mother must have hated him!
In the photo above the liverwort is the fleshy looking bow tie with the reptilian texture! The books I’ve been reading often talk about moss and liverworts together because they reproduce in a similar way—via sperm that swim and fertilize eggs in a separate female plants.
Like moss, liverworts appear in most every ecosystem around the world. Liverwort is everywhere except the very driest environments, there are species that live in the desert and there are approx. 9,000 specimens worldwide. Scientists used to consider them Bryophyta like moss but are now placing the liverwort in a different division. The only liverworts I’ve seen so far grow on the sides of rocks in streams and rivers where they are constantly wetted by the splash of water.
According to Wikipedia, liverwort means “liver plant” in Old English and was named in ancient times for it’s supposed ability to cure liver disease. However, today it is not used as food or medicine. In fact, we humans don’t use it for anything except as an aquarium plant.
All photos in this post are from Smoky Mountains National Park. See more moss from the Smokies in a previous post at Sweet Tennessee Moss in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Karen Nierlich is a photographer who is working on a fine art book about Moss. As Winter approaches she is thinking where she might travel in N. California to photograph moss. Any suggestions?