Fire Effects Information System (FEIS)
FEIS Home Page

Marchantia polymorpha

Table of Contents


Matthews, Robin F. 1993. Marchantia polymorpha. In: Fire Effects Information 
System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, 
Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). 

10 September 2013: The Fire Case Study of Zasada and others' [19,56,57] 
study was converted to a Research Project Summary.

24 July 2013: Common name of Marchantia polymorpha added


   Marchantia aquatica (Nees) Burgeff


common liverwort
umbrella liverwort

The currently accepted scientific name of commnon liverwort is Marchantia
polymorpha L.; it is in the class Hepaticae [16,34].  The following
varieties are recognized based on ecological and morphological
characteristics [13,14]:

    Marchantia polymorpha L. var. polymorpha
    Marchantia polymorpha L. var. aquatica Nees --often submerged with
                   the thallus erect or suberect
    Marchantia polymorpha L. var. alpestris Nees --most often in dense
                   compact patches in alpine regions with prostrate


No special status



SPECIES: Marchantia polymorpha
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Common liverwort is the most widely distributed hepatic in the world [47]. It is a cosmopolitan species that occurs from tropical to arctic regions [6,14,42,47]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES10 White - red - jack pine FRES11 Spruce - fir FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood FRES18 Maple - beech - birch FRES19 Aspen - birch FRES20 Douglas-fir FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES22 Western white pine FRES23 Fir - spruce FRES24 Hemlock - Sitka spruce FRES25 Larch FRES26 Lodgepole pine FRES27 Redwood FRES28 Western hardwoods FRES31 Shinnery FRES32 Texas savanna FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub FRES35 Pinyon - juniper FRES36 Mountain grasslands FRES37 Mountain meadows FRES38 Plains grasslands FRES39 Prairie FRES41 Wet grasslands FRES42 Annual grasslands FRES44 Alpine STATES : AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WI WY AB BC MB NB NF NT NS ON PE PQ SK YT BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 1 Northern Pacific Border 2 Cascade Mountains 3 Southern Pacific Border 4 Sierra Mountains 5 Columbia Plateau 6 Upper Basin and Range 7 Lower Basin and Range 8 Northern Rocky Mountains 9 Middle Rocky Mountains 10 Wyoming Basin 11 Southern Rocky Mountains 12 Colorado Plateau 13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont 14 Great Plains 15 Black Hills Uplift 16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : widely distributed, occurs in most types within its range SAF COVER TYPES : widely distributed, occurs in most types within its range SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Common liverwort is found in various habitats ranging from tropical forests to arctic tundra but is not a dominant or indicator species in published classification schemes. Commonly associated species in northern North America include postfire invaders or sprouters such as willows (Salix spp.), blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), bluejoint reedgrass (Calamagrostis canadensis), sheathed cottonsedge (Eriophorum vaginatum), fire moss (Ceratodon purpurea), and other mosses (Funaria hygrometrica, Polytrichum commune, P. juniperum, P. piliferum).


SPECIES: Marchantia polymorpha
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : NO-ENTRY PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Invasion and formation of common liverwort mats after fire helps to prevent soil erosion [43,44]. In southeastern British Columbia, common liverwort colonized mineral soil exposed by skid trails [38]. Common liverwort has a high lead tolerance and may be an indicator of high lead concentrations [10]. It also tolerates other heavy metals [14,30,32]. Gemmalings grow in lead concentrations to 400 parts per million (p/m) and zinc concentrations to 100 p/m. Copper suppresses growth but chelated copper complexed with ethylene-diaminetetraacetic acid is tolerated at high levels [15]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Historically, common liverwort was thought to be an antidote for diseases of the liver and tuberculosis due to the fact that its form and texture resemble that of an animal liver [8]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Dichlorophen kills common liverwort [11].


SPECIES: Marchantia polymorpha
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Common liverwort has a flat, branching form. The thallus is generally 0.8 to 4 inches (2-10 cm) long and 0.3 to 0.8 inch (7-20 mm) broad. Thalli are dichotomously branched and exhibit apical growth. Numerous rhizoids attach the gametophyte (thallus) to the soil. Smooth rhizoids penetrate the soil, while tuberculate rhizoids run horizontally along the surface of the plant. Common liverwort is dioecious [5,8,9,34]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : NO-ENTRY REGENERATION PROCESSES : Common liverwort has two alternate forms in its life cycle: a gametophytic stage and a sporophytic stage. The gametophyte propagates itself vegetatively and also produces the gametes which give rise to the sporophyte [8,9,55]. In sexual reproduction, antheridia and archegonia develop on separate plant bodies and are borne on stalked antheridiophores and archegoniophores, respectively. Fertilization takes place prior to elongation of the stalk, and a sporophyte is formed. Spores with hygroscopic elaters (slender threads that twist and coil as they dry and propel spores into the air) subsequently develop and are released [8]. As many as 7 million spores may be formed on each plant [55]. Vegetative reproduction may occur as a result of fragmentation or gemma cup production. In fragmentation, new plants are formed when older plant parts die at the fork of a branch of a thallus. The two branches then become separate individuals [8]. Gametophytes produce propagative structures called gemma cups. Each gemma gives rise to numerous gemmae that are released when the cup fills with water. Gemmae that are transported to favorable sites form a pair of young plants [9,27]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Common liverwort grows on a wide variety of sites within its range including cliffs, closed forests, alpine heathlands, peat bogs, minerotropic fens, springs, swamps, grasslands, and tundra [2,5,8,50]. It is most often found on moist or wet mineral soil, especially in recently burned areas [4,18,21]. Common liverwort grows best in subcalcareous soil conditions (pH 6.0) under full sunlight [42,46]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Obligate Initial Community Species In central Canada, common liverwort is a primary invader of marshes and edges of small ponds that are associated with fluctuating water tables [12]. Common liverwort mats can interfere with the establishment of seedlings of other vegetation [22]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Common liverwort gametophores appear and archegonia are ready for fertilization in early to late May [18]. Sporogonia mature and spores are released in July [18,34]. Gemmae production ceases in late spring in Michigan [27].


SPECIES: Marchantia polymorpha
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Common liverwort rapidly invades burned areas by light wind-borne spores [19,39,45]. Exposed mineral soil and high lime concentrations present after a severe fire provide favorable conditions for gametophyte establishment [28,50,51,52]. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Secondary colonizer - off-site spores


SPECIES: Marchantia polymorpha
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : NO-ENTRY DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Common liverwort is widely recognized as an initial or early invader of burned sites [7,17,24,36]. It exhibits dramatic growth following fire and in some cases attains 100 percent cover [25,29,33,37]. Common liverwort dominates the early moss-herb stage after a fire but does not persist through subsequent stages of succession [21,35,46,48]. In Alaska and Canada, common liverwort colonies are not present in prefire communities [40,41,53,54]. In northeastern Minnesota, cover of common liverwort on burned jack pine (Pinus banksiana)-black spruce (Picea mariana) sites increased until postfire year 3, but it was replaced by lichens (Peltigera spp.) by postfire year 5 [1]. Common liverwort produced large spreading mats on thin mineral soil and charred humus after a severe fire in New Jersey. The mats persisted for 2 to 3 years, then were replaced by shrubs and forbs [49]. In interior Alaska, common liverwort found in burned white spruce (Picea glauca) and mesic black spruce types had the following frequency and cover percentages [21]: Years White spruce Black spruce Stage since fire frequency cover frequency cover ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Newly burned 0-1 0 0 0 0 2. Moss-herb 1-5 15 1 6 8 3. Tall shrub- 3(5)-30 0 0 12 2 sapling 4. Dense tree 26-45 (WS) 0 0 30-55 (BS) 0 0 After the 1971 Wickersham Dome Fire near Fairbanks, Alaska, M. polymorpha was present in severely burned black spruce and trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) stands but was not present in adjacent unburned control plots or in lightly burned stands. Marchantia polymorpha attained its highest frequency the third year after the fire when it reached 5 percent and 45 percent on black spruce and trembling aspen sites, respectively. Biomass production in grams per square meter was as follows [52]: Black spruce Aspen ----------------------------- 1973 0.1 0.5 1974 0.8 69.6 In Alaska, common liverwort was more predominant on well-drained sites than poorly drained sites after fire due to the fact that exposed mineral soil provided a more favorable seedbed [26]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : For information on prescribed fire and postfire response of many plant species, including common liverwort, see Hamilton's Research Papers (Hamilton 2006a, Hamilton 2006b) and these Research Project Summaries: FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Common liverwort revegetates areas where mineral soil has been exposed. Colonies aid in the renewal of the humus and prepare the soil for the establishment of other vegetation [49].


SPECIES: Marchantia polymorpha
REFERENCES : 1. Ahlgren, C. E. 1974. Effects of fires on temperate forests: north central United States. In: Kozlowski, T. T.; Ahlgren, C. E., eds. Fire and ecosystems. New York: Academic Press: 195-223. [13110] 2. Belland, Rene J.; Schofield, W. B.; Hedderson, Terry A. 1992. Bryophytes of Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, Quebec: a boreal flora with arctic and alpine components. Canadian Journal of Botany. 70: 2207-2222. [20421] 3. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434] 4. Bird, C. D.; Scotter, G. W. 1977. Bryophytes from the area drained by the Peel and MacKenzie Rivers, Yukon and N.W.T. Canada. Canadian Journal of Botany. 55: 2879-2918. [21344] 5. Bischler, Helene; Piippo, Sinikka. 1991. Bryophyte flora of the Huon Peninsula, Papua New Guinea. L. Marchantia (Marchantiaceae, Hepaticae). Ann. Bot. Fennici. 28(4): 277-301. [20498] 6. Bischler-Causse, H.; Boisselier-Dubayle, M. C. 1991. Lectotypification of Marchantia polymorpha L. Journal of Bryology. 16(3): 361-365. [19944] 7. Bliss, L. C.; Wein, R. W. 1972. Plant community responses to disturbances in the western Canadian Arctic. Canadian Journal of Botany. 50: 1097-1109. [14877] 8. Bland, J. H. 1971. Forests of Lilliput. The realm of mosses and lichens. New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc. [Pages unknown]. [21158] 9. Bold, H. C.; Alexopoulos, C. J.; Delevoryas, T. 1980. Morphology of plants and fungi. New York: Harper and Row. 819 p. [21159] 10. Briggs, D. 1972. Population differentiation in Marchantia polymorpha L. in various lead pollution levels. Nature. 238: 106-107. [21348] 11. Brown, D. H.; Ougham, H.; Beckett, R. P. 1986. The effect of the herbicide dichlorophen on the physiology and growth of two bryophytes. Annals of Botany. 57(2): 201-209. [20484] 12. Brumelis, G.; Carleton, T. J. 1989. The vegetation of post-logged black spruce lowlands in central Canada. II. Understory vegetation. Journal of Applied Ecology. 26: 321-339. [7864] 13. Campbell, Ella O. 1969. Marchantia polymorpha in northern Michigan. Michigan Botanist. 8(3): 146-150. [20492] 14. Clarke, G. C. S.; Duckett, J. G., eds. 1979. Bryophyte systematics. New York: Academic Press. 582 p. [21160] 15. Coombes, A. J.; Lepp, N. W. 1974. The effect of Cu and Zn on the growth of Marchantia polymorpha and Funaria hygrometrica. Bryologist. 77: 447-452. [21346] 16. Duckett, J. G.; Duckett, A. R. 1980. Reproductive biology and population dynamics of wild gametophytes of Equisetum. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 80: 1-40. [20700] 17. Duncan, Diana; Dalton, P. J. 1982. Recolonisation by bryophytes following fire. Journal of Bryology. 12: 53-63. [19774] 18. Durand, Elias J. 1908. The development of the sexual organs and sporogonium of Marchantia polymorpha. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 35(7): 321-335. [21347] 19. Dyrness, C. T.; Norum, Rodney A. 1983. The effects of experimental fires on black spruce forest floors in interior Alaska. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 13: 879-893. [7299] 20. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 21. Foote, M. Joan. 1983. Classification, description, and dynamics of plant communities after fire in the taiga of interior Alaska. Res. Pap. PNW-307. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 108 p. [7080] 22. Foote, M. Joan. 1993. Revegetation following the 1950 Porcupine River Fire: 1950-1981. Fairbanks, AK: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Institute of Northern Forestry. 71 p. Review draft. [19874] 23. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 24. Graff, Paul W. 1936. Invasion by Marchantia polymorpha following forest fires. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 63: 67-74. [16357] 25. Hall, Dorothy K.; Ormsby, James P.; Johnson, Larry; Brown, Jerry. 1980. Landsat digital analysis of the initial recovery of burned tundra at Kokolik River, Alaska. Remote Sensing of Environment. 10: 263-272. [12374] 26. Hanson, William A. 1979. Preliminary results of the Bear Creek fire effects studies. Proposed open file report. Anchorage, AK: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Anchorage District Office. 83 p. [6400] 27. Hollensen, Raymond H.; Taylor, Jane. 1981. A gemmiparous population of Marchantia polymorpha var. aquatica in Cheboygan County, Michigan. Michigan Botanist. 8(3): 189-191. [20493] 28. Humphrey, Harry B.; Weaver, John Ernst. 1915. Natural reforestation in the mountains of northern Idaho. Plant World. 18: 31-49. [12448] 29. Kelsall, John P. 1957. Continued barren-ground caribou studies. Wildlife Management Bulletin Series 1: No. 12. Ottawa, Canada: Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources, National Parks Branch, Canadian Wildlife Service. 148 p. [16597] 30. Krupinska, Irena. 1976. Influence of lead tetraethyl on the growth of Funaria hygrometrica L. and Marchantia polymorpha L. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae. 45(4): 421-428. [20495] 31. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 32. Lepp, Nicholas W.; Hockenhull, Yvonne. 1983. Growth responses of Marchantia polymorpha gemmalings in relation to concentration and chemical form of applied nickel. Bryologist. 86(4): 342-346. [20481] 33. Lutz, H. J. 1953. The effects of forest fires on the vegetation of interior Alaska. Juneau, AK: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 36 p. [7076] 34. Macvicar, S. M. 1960. Student handbook of British hepatics. New York: Wheldon and Wesley, Ltd. 464 p. [21161] 35. Maikawa, E.; Kershaw, K. A. 1976. Studies on lichen-dominated systems. XIX. The postfire recovery sequence of black spruce-lichen woodland in the Abitau Lake region, N.W.T. Canadian Journal of Botany. 54: 2679-2687. [7225] 36. Martin, J. Lynton. 1955. Observations on the origin and early development of a plant community following a forest fire. Forestry Chronicle. 31: 154-161. [11363] 37. Methven, I. R.; Van Wagner, C. E.; Stocks, B. J. 1975. The vegetation of four burned areas in northwestern Ontario. Inf. Rep. PS-X-60. Chalk River, ON: Canadian Forestry Service, Petawawa Forest Experiment Station. 10 p. [13114] 38. Oswald, E. T.; Brown, B. N. 1993. Vegetation development on skid trails and burned sites in southeastern British Columbia. Forestry Chronicle. 69(1): 75-80. [20566] 39. Parminter, John. 1983. Fire-ecological relationships for the biogeoclimatic zones of the Cassiar Timber Supply Area: summary report. In: Northern Fire Ecology Project, Cassiar Timber Supply Area. Victoria, BC: Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Forests. 64 p. [9201] 40. Racine, Charles H. 1979. The 1977 tundra fires in the Seward Peninsula, Alaska: effects and initial revegetation. BLM-Alaska Technical Report 4. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Alaska State Office. 51 p. [8330] 41. Racine, Charles H. 1981. Tundra fire effects on soils and three plant communities along a hill-slope gradient in the Seward Peninsula, Alaska. Arctic. 34(1): 71-84. [7233] 42. Schuster, R. M. 1953. A manual of liverworts of Minnesota and adjacent regions. American Midland Naturalist. 49: 257-684. [21345] 43. Scotter, George W. 1963. Effects of forest fires on soil properties in northern Saskatchewan. Canadian Forestry Chronicle. 39(4): 412-421. [13605] 44. Scotter, George W. 1971. Fire, vegetation, soil, and barren-ground caribou relations in northern Canada. In: Slaughter, C. W.; Barney, Richard J.; Hansen, G. M., eds. Fire in the northern environment--a symposium: Proceedings of a symposium; 1971 April 13-14; Fairbanks, AK. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Range and Experiment Station: 209-230. [15730] 45. Scotter, George W. 1972. Fire as an ecological factor in boreal forest ecosystems of Canada. In: Fire in the environment: Symposium proceedings; 1972 May 1-5; Denver, CO. FS-276. [Ogden, UT]: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, [Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station]: 15-25. [13404] 46. Gilley, Susan. 1982. The non-game update: the Delmarva fox squirrel; making a comeback?. Virginia Wildlife. 43(12): 24-25. [3463] 47. Steere, W. C. 1940. Liverworts of southern Michigan. Cranbrook Institute of Science Bulletin No. 17. Bloomfield, MI: Cranbrook Press. 97 p. [21162] 48. Strang, R. M. 1973. Succession in unburned subarctic woodlands. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 3: 140-143. [7889] 49. Torrey, Raymond H. 1932. Marchantia polymorpha after forest fires. Torreyana. 32: 9-10. [14072] 50. Torrey, Raymond H. 1932. Another report of Marchantia polymorpha after forest fires. Torreya. 32: 128-129. [14487] 51. Uggla, Evald. 1959. Ecological effects of fire on north Swedish forests. [Place of publication unknown]: Almqvist and Wiksells. 18 p. [9911] 52. Viereck, L. A.; Dyrness, C. T. 1979. Ecological effects of the Wickersham Dome Fire near Fairbanks, Alaska. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-90. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 71 p. [6392] 53. Viereck, Leslie A. 1982. Effects of fire and firelines on active layer thickness and soil temperatures in interior Alaska. In: Proceedings, 4th Canadian permafrost conference; 1981 March 2-6; Calgary, AB. The Roger J.E. Brown Memorial Volume. Ottawa, ON: National Research Council of Canada: 123-135. [7303] 54. Wein, Ross W.; Bliss, L. C. 1973. Changes in Arctic Eriophorum tussock communities following fire. Ecology. 54(4): 845-852. [9827] 55. Wilson, C. L.; Loomis, W. E.; Steeves, T. A. 1971. Botany. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. 752 p. [21163] 56. Zasada, John C.; Norum, Rodney A.; Teutsch, Christian E.; Densmore, Roseann. 1987. Survival and growth of planted black spruce, alder, aspen and willow after fire on black spruce/feather moss sites in interior Alaska. The Forestry Chronicle. 63(2): 84-88. [85354] 57. Zasada, John C.; Norum, Rodney A.; Van Veldhuizen, Robert M.; Teutsch, Christian E. 1983. Artificial regeneration of trees and tall shrubs in experimentally burned upland black spruce/feather moss stands in Alaska. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 13: 903-913. [6991]

FEIS Home Page