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Moss, liverworts, and hornworts are true plants, able to photosynthesis light. They were once all grouped together in the Division called Bryophytes because they lack a vascular system and reproduce in a similar fashion, but have now been separated into three Divisions. They are all very ancient type land plants. Plants similar to Liverworts or Hornwarts may be the first group to evolve from algae and moss may be related to the first vascular plants.

Moss: Division Bryophyta: The upright stems of moss are covered in tiny leaves. Male and female plants look very similar. At the top they develop either structures for eggs or sperm. Rain transfers the sperm to the egg structures. The egg turns into a spore and is dispersed by the wind from a tall structure that grows from the top of the female plant. This system is so efficient that many species are world wide. They have root-like fibers (rhizoids). These "roots" anchor the plant and absorb water.

Liverworts: Division Marchantiophyta: The leafy part of the plant has male structures (thallus) on the top surface. Growing out of the leaves are stalked female structures (hood) that look like stars, parasols, palm trees, pom-poms, etc. Rain and wind disperses the spores and "seed" (gammae). They have root-like fibers (rhizoids) on the lower midrib of each thallus. These "roots" anchor the plant and absorb water. These plants become a nuisance in greenhouses.

Hornworts: Division Anthocerotophyta: They look similar to Liverworts, except the female structures are tall and thin.

za 6 moss   za 6 moss (1)

? family
Moss **za 6** Scientific Name
Photos taken in Taylor County, Texas, October 2002
(Native of Texas)

za 1, Liverwort, Asterella sp, VZ (1)   za 1, Liverwort, Asterella sp, VZ

Order Marchantiopsida    Aytoniaceae (Marchantiaceae) - Liverwort family
Liverwort [with moss] **za 1** Scientific name
It is difficult to determine species without female structure.
Photos taken in Van Zandt County, Texas, November 2006
(Native of Texas)

Hunting Similar Species

Liverwort Asterella echinella
Flat leaf-like structure is male. The female spore grows out of the male (no photo). It is a green "pom-pom" ball on a stem.
(Native of Texas)

Liverwort Asterella tenella
Flat leaf-like structure is male. The female spore grows out of the male (no photo). It is a green ball on a stem with projections on the bottom that have purple scales.
(Native of Texas)

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