Marchantia polymorpha

 

Botanical Name : Marchantia polymorpha
Family: Marchantiaceae
Genus: Marchantia
Species: M. polymorpha
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Marchantiophyta
Class: Marchantiopsida
Order: Marchantiales

Synonym : Marchantia aquatica

Common Names: Liverwort, Common liverwort or Umbrella liverwort

Habitat :Marchantia polymorpha is found worldwide from tropical to arctic climates. It grows on moist soil and rocks in damp habitats such as the banks of streams and pools, bogs, fens and dune slacks. It rapidly colonizes burnt ground after fires. It often grows in man-made habitats such as gardens, paths and greenhouses and can be a horticultural weed,  dense, fleshy mat that grows prostrate over the surface of container crops and/or nursery floors.

Description:
Marchantia polymorpha is a thallose liverwort which forms a rosette of flattened thalli with forked branches. The thalli grow up to 10 cm long with a width of up to 2 cm. It is usually green in colour but older plants can become brown or purplish. The upper surface has a pattern of hexagonal markings. The underside is covered by many root-like rhizoids which attach the plant to the soil. The plants produce umbrella-like reproductive structures known as gametophores. The gametophores of female plants consist of a stalk with star-like rays at the top. These contain archegonia, the organs which produce the ova. Male gametophores are topped by a flattened disc containing the antheridia which produce sperm.

Detail description:
Foliage: The leaf-like structure that covers the surface of the ground or container are called thalli (thallus in singular form). Liverworts are not vascular plants, but a more primitive life form similar to mosses. They do not have true leaves like most organisms we consider plants.
Flower: Liverworts do not have flowers (and thus do not produce seed), instead they archegoniophores and antheridiophores (female and male sex organs). Liverwort are unisexual, with male and female sex organs forming on different plants. Antheridiophores look like an umbrella while the female achegoniophores have finger-like projections.

Seed: Liverworts reproduce sexually by spores, not seed. Liverworts can also reproduce asexually by gemmae (see section on foliage above).
Roots: Marchantia do not have roots, they have rhizoids which are root-like structures that lack xylem and phloem.
Related species: Lunularia cruciata, which is another liverwort similar in appearance to Marchantia.

Special considerations: The term liverwort refers to a group of about 6,000 species. Only one, Marchantia polymorpha, is a weed problem in nurseries. Are we giving all liverworts a bad rap because of one species? It seems so.

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Marchantia polymorpha can reproduce both sexually and asexually. Sexual reproduction involves sperm from the male plant fertilizing ova from the female plants. A fertilized ovum develops into a small sporophyte plant which remains attached to the larger gametophyte plant. The sporophyte produces male and female spores which develop into free-living gametophyte plants.

Asexual reproduction can occur when older parts of the plant die and newer branches develop into separate plants. It can also occur by means of gemmae, balls of cells which are genetically identical to the parent and contained in cup-like structures on the upper surface of the plant. These are dispersed when rain splashes the cups and develop into new plants.

Medicinal Uses:
Cytotoxicity against the KB cells; antileukemic activity in several compounds from leafy liverworts. In China, to treat jaundice, hepatitis and as an extermal cure to reduce inflammation; in Himalayas for boils and abscesses; mixed with vegetable oils as ointments for boils, eczema, cuts, bites, wounds, burns

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marchantia_polymorpha
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

http://oregonstate.edu/dept/nursery-weeds/weedspeciespage/liverwort/liverwort_page.html

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