Back in November, Chris Barnhart send me pictures of a large patch of liverwort that he had been watching. Initially it was a dull mass, seen below, but the morning after a rain it blossomed into the bright green you see above. I sent it to Nels Holmberg who identified it as Asterella tenella, sending it on to John Atwood for confirmation. They added that "I have never seen such a thick pad of this species. Usually it is spread out 1 plant deep."
|Dry liverwort - Christ Barnhart|
A. tenella is a thaloid liverwort, which I am sure most of you recognized but was Greek to me (actually Latin, but never mind). I did finally find this definition of the genus.
"Asterella is a liverwort, a type of simple, non-vascular plant, akin to mosses. Like mosses, liverworts are restricted to moist habitats or moist times of the year. ......Astrella is found widely around CSUCI, but only in well-shaded habitats (such as the shadiest parts of north facing slopes). It is active (green) only in the days or weeks immediately following rainfall. When dry and inactive, it is black and crusty" Cal. State U Channel IslandsOur Master Naturalist program in March is on the Bryophytes by Nels Holmberg. They are the "lower half" of the plant kingdom, seedless non-vascular plants, made up of mosses, liverworts and hornworts. The other "half" are all the flowering vascular plants we are familiar with. For me it is easier to talk about what bryophytes aren't, comparing them against flowering, seed forming trees, forbs and grasses that are familiar in their lifestyle and reproduction.
|Asterella tenella closeup - Chris Barnhart|
|Brachythecium species of moss|