In almost all the flowerpots on our balcony you can find lots of common liverwort – also called umbrella liverwort.
First I thought it looked a bit ugly – mostly because it’s just not the plant that’s intended to grow there, I think. But after taking a closer look, it’s kind of cute…..
It has these umbrellas and little cups.
So I started looking some things up on the internet.
First I learned that the green “thing” that looks like a kind of leaf, is called thallus. And what you see at the bottom of the thallus and looks like roots, is called rhizoids.
On top of these thalli are these small little cups:
They are called gemmae cups, because the little green things inside of them are called gemmae.
Gemmae are haploid babies (maybe clones would be a better description) of the plant. If rain hits the cup, some of the gemmae are released and where they hit the soil, they can grow rhizoids and grow into a new liverwort. I think that’s the reason why I have loads of them…..
So that’s how the asexual reproduction of common liverworts works.
For the sexual reproduction you need the little umbrellas. There are female and male umbrellas. Last year I had only male liverwort on my balcony, but this year I was exited to find female ones as well (that’s when I decided to write this post 🙂 ).
On the left you can see the male and on the right the female plant.
The little umbrellas are called gametophores. You can see they differ in form. The male ones are more like a disk. Inside the disk there are antheridia and in these the sperm is produced, which comes out of small openings on top of the disk. I couldn’t really see these, so there’s no picture of them……
The female gametophores look like little stars. They have archegonia in which the ova are produced. They are on the bottom side of these stars. Here’s a close up……..
I also found one where I think fertilization might already have occured….. You can see the husk (I’m not sure if that’s the right word, maybe involucrum is better (or maybe that’s not even English 😦 )) and in the middle you see something yellow. I think this must be where the spores are or have been……
Interesting is, that the spores also are haploid. We humans are diploid creatures, but this liverwort only is diploid inside the female plant after fertilization, when the sporophyte is formed. The spores themselves are again haploid as is the liverwort I found in the flowerpots……..
Sooooooo…….. this was a bit complicated …… at least for me …. 😉 I hope, I got everything right. If you find some errors, please tell me!!