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Liverworts on Soils and Paths

Posted in Cleaning Advice on July 26, 2017


Liverworts are often found growing on the soil surface around pot plants and in the garden at the edges of lawns or in the cracks between pavers on a path. In most cases, they do not cause harm but they might be regarded as unsightly and you might want to get rid of them.

Liverworts (Marchantiophyta) are members of the non-vascular (without veins) plant group which includes mosses and hornworts. Because they don’t have veins to transport water or nutrients from one part of the plant to another, non-vascular plants remain small and low growing. They have leaf-like structures known as thallus which are lobed rather like the liver and this may be the source of their name but they were also used in ancient times as a ‘cure’ for liver ailments. The thallus is attached to the substrate by root-like rhizoids. When mature, the liverworts produce male and female mushroom-like or umbrella-like stalked growths. Water carries the sperm from the male to the female plants. Like mosses, the liverworts produce spores and not seeds.

Liverworts are green because they photosynthesise like other plants. They should not be confused with lichens which are symbiotic combined organisms of algae or cyanobacteria and fungi. Some lichens have a similar lobed structure but are tougher and if green, are usually a grey-green.

Liverworts do not usually do any harm but they can be regarded as unsightly when on a path or in the soil of a plant pot. They can be controlled on hard surfaces with Kiwicare SORTED Moss and Mould and on the soil in and around plants by carefully spraying with Weed Weapon Rapid Action, Weed Weapon Natural Power or LawnPro Mossclear.

David Brittain

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