Other plants: liverworts, hornworts, lycopods, horsetails, gnetophytes...

archaeopteryx

Gambian sidling bush
Joined
Feb 25, 2017
Messages
1,175
Besides the trees and wildflowers threads we have a moss thread (Bryophyta) and a general plants thread that's really more of an angiosperm (flowering plants) thread. This is a bit awkward for Marchantiophyta (liverworts), Anthocertophyta (hornworts), Lycopodiopsida (lycopods: clubmosses, firmosses, spikemosses, and quillworts), Equisetales (horsetails), Gnetopsida (gnetophytes), and perhaps a few others. These taxa are often overlooked and can be mistaken for others, particularly if viewed casually in another context (e.g. the leafy liverworts in posts 840 and 843 of the general plants thread). Rather than consign five major groups in the plant kingdom to obscurity I'm splitting this thread for them. Living species counts are around 7000 liverworts, 1300 lycopods, 200 hornworts, 70 gnetophytes, and 20 horsetails so, to hazard a guess, this may prove mainly a liverwort thread.

For posting, please make a reasonable effort towards an ID and the appropriate plant thread. The links above and some of the material in the mosses thread should help with identifications. Bryophyte Biology is a good reference for liverworts and hornworts (plus mosses), albeit dense. Barbara Crandall-Stotler has published extensively on liverworts. Karen Renzaglia and Juan Villarreal often collaborate on bryophytes, including hornworts. For North American bryophytes, keys are available from the Bryophyte Flora of North America project. Sources for lycopods, horsetails, and gentophytes are more sparse but local information can usually be found. Fern references often include lycopods as, along with horsetails, they're also pteridophytes.

Most photographers are likely to find plants offer a steep learning curve, moreso when moving away from the comparatively well studied and documented angiosperms and gymnosperms. So it's fine to post to what you think is best thread, describe what you've tried for identification, and ask for help. Just be clear about the uncertainty; do so helps others to learn and not be confused over which plants are which. While I didn't mention them in the title, there's also a number of extinct plant divisions known through fossils, such as the Rhyniophyta and Cladoxylopsida, which fit logically in this thread.

As a first example, the images below are of a thallose liverwort. Probably Asterella californica, but I'd have needed to dissect to confirm and collection wasn't permitted at the image site (Whittemore 1982). The flat leaf-like bodies are thalli and bodies on stalks are archegoniophores (A. californica is dioecious).
P1040611 web.jpg
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A closer look at a couple thalli and an archegoniophore.
P1040616 web.jpg
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P1040614 web.jpg
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archaeopteryx

Gambian sidling bush
Joined
Feb 25, 2017
Messages
1,175
Bushy spikemoss (Selaginella bigelovii) is one of 55 extant species in the order Selaginellales. This order of herbaceous lycopods co-occurred with the arborescent lycopod forests of the Carboniferous Period 350-300 million years ago (Taylor 2009). While recent study of spikemosses typically uses them as a source of insight into early land plant evolution (e.g. Oliver 2000, Banks 2011, Artur 2019) it's probably a mistake to overlook that extant species represent the continuing adaptation of a basic design for a plant that's been successful through several major climate changes and extinction events. Selaginella is probably most studied for its desiccation tolerance (e.g. Wang 2010, Agduma 2016, VanBuren 2018) and my personal experience of Selaginella species is they're associated with bryophyte communities where desiccation tolerance seems likely to be a useful adaptation. These two images come from just a few meters away from the Asterella californica liverworts of the previous post.

Plus spikemosses look cool.
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