Photograph Description and comments
Marchantia polymorpha

Its life cycle demonstrates two life stages: gametophyte and sporophyte. Gametophytes propagate both vegetatively and produce gametes. Gametes join in fertilization giving rise to sporophytes.

Sexual reproductive structures are antheridia (male) and archegonia (female). These develop on separate plant bodies called antheridiophore (male) and archegoniophore (female). Sporophyte capsules contain spores and coiled threads (hygroscopic elaters) that propel the spores into the air. Each plants produces millions of spores.

Gametophytes form gemma cups which produce numerous gemmae. Gemmae are released when the cup fills with water, and new plants are produced. Image shows antheridiophores and gemmae cups.

- Identified and text edited by Dr. Virginia Freire, Curator of Bryophytes, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Marchantia polymorpha. Plant displays flat dichotomous branching with apical growth. Thallus is 1 to 3 inches long and 0.3 to 0.7 inches wide. Thallus has rhizoids that attach to the sphagnum. Plant is dioicous (having male and female reproductive structures on separate plants).

NOTE: dioicous is the equivalent to dioecious for bryophytes.

The native habitat for this plant includes wet forests, bogs, fens, and swamps. Preferred soil is pH 6 or lower. It grows well under full sunlight.

This specimen was grown in a man-made outdoor bog on a string (raised ridge). Bog was filled with horticulturally obtained, long fibered sphagnum moss to a depth of 12-14 inches. Sphagnum was constantly wet and the mat actually floats on the water. Plant has successfully overwintered outdoors for several years.

6/01/2010 Marchantia polymorpha showing both antheridiophore (male) and archegoniophore (female).
6/01/2010 Marchantia polymorpha colony has expanded. Recently small colonies of mosses have formed near Marchantia.


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