New Zealand Status: Indigenous
Conservation Status: Not Threatened
Marchantia foliacea are simple plants without roots or vascular systems. The thallus is 5 to 70mm long and 2 to 12mm wide with a wavy margin. It grows parallel to the surface of the soil and branches dichotomously at intervals of 10 to 30mm. The upper surface of the thallus is smooth, usually glossy, and green to yellowish-green in colour. The reproductive structures appear in August and September, each on a stalk up to 20mm in height with a flat head 5 to 7mm in diameter that has 4 to 8 lobes.
Marchantia foliacea also features tiny cup like structures called gemmae cups in which the gemmae (multicellular bodies) reside until rainfall splashes them out at which time they will develop into another liverwort plant. This is a widespread means of asexual reproduction in both liverworts and mosses.
Marchantia foliacea occurs mostly on cool, damp, sites including lowland forests, bush, gardens, and even on the surface of plant pots.
© Geografpix Photography, Steve Reader