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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

23 November, 2016

Lunularia cruciata: the crescent-cup liverwort

This plant is not exactly a moss, it is a liverwort; they are related but the differences are quite technical and beyond me to even attempt to understand. If I had to make an observation I would say liverworts have waxy, leafy structures whereas mosses seem more flexible and slender. I will say no more as I expect there are specimens of both mosses and liverworts that blow that theory out of the water!
This particular species is known as the crescent-cup liverwort (Lunularia cruciata). It is best known as a coloniser of flower pots, rockeries, walls and garden paths. In some cases it can be of a pest in gardens. It is this fondness for gardens that lead to a belief that this is not actually a native species but was brought in with imported plants and has spread as people have bought pot plants from garden centres. That may be true but it can also be commonly found on stream banks and bridges and it can even occur along  woodland rides. Whether this is because the plant has escaped from gardens or because it occurs naturally is not clear. 
The 'leaves' are about 1.5mm across, are pale green and almost always form large spreading mats.
Lunularia cruciata: the crescent-cup liverwort