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Image of Jungermannia polymorpha

Bernd Haynold, Wikipedia Commons Contributor



Botanical Name


Plant Common Name

Common Liverwort, Marchantia

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

A low-growing mat of green growing in a sunny location is usually a telltale sign of the common liverwort. It looks somewhat similar to the closely-related mosses and hornworts. The common liverwort is a primitive, non-vascular plant native to all parts of the world, from the tropics to the polar tundra, in a wide array of habitats from cliffs, heath lands, bogs and forests. Liverworts do not flower, but reproduce with spores or by developing more vegetative growth. They also have two physical forms during their life cycle: the plant-like, most common and enduring gametophyte stage and the reproductive sporophyte stage when spores are formed and shed.

Common liverwort's foliage may be considered leaf-like, but the green, photosynthesizing organs are more accurately called thalli. Liverwort may range from yellowish olive green to bright, vivid green or gray-green at anytime during the year. Each thallus is broad and oval, later branching at their tips with new growth. A thallus can produce a cup-like structure called a gemma that fragments into two new liverworts in the mat-like cluster. During the rare, infrequent sexual reproduction event, both antheridia and archegonia structures arise from the main plant mass, creating upright stalks. The stalks look like umbrellas. Moisture on the liverwort allows sperm to reach eggs on the stalks. Fertilized stalks, known as sporangia, release millions of spores into the environment. The spores are driven by wind or moved in water where they may germinate once situated on moist substrate.

Common liverwort is not a commonly grown garden plant, but it does provide color and texture to moist areas of the landscape. Most often, the liverwort is regarded as a pesky weed in greenhouses or gardens. In the wild, common liverwort grows best in slightly acidic soil that is fertile and moist to seasonally soggy in full sunlight or very bright indirect light. This non-vascular plant is among the first organisms to repopulate an area after a wildfire, and therefore has value in stabilizing slopes and preventing erosion and run-off in areas void of other plants. However, once common liverwort proliferates and creates a widespread mat, it prevents the germination and establishment of other, more advanced plant species in a habitat.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    1 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    1"-2" / 2.5cm - 5.1cm

  • Width

    6"-36" / 15.2cm - 91.4cm

  • Native To


Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage


  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Tolerances

    Wet Site

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Lime Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Lime Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Lime Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Gray Green, Yellow Green

  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Groundcover

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Self-Sowing