Our Weird Plant

....is a liverwort!

We are Mrs. Selby's and Mrs. Edward's 4th Grade Classes. On May 14, 1999, Steve's mom helped us out by posting the message below on this web site:

We are having a day at the Griswold Conservation Area, which is a glacial kame also known as "The Mound" in Blue Mound, Illinois, which is in the central part of the state. Neither our teachers nor our guides from the Macon County Conservation District could tell us what this strange plant is. We think it might be some kind of algae. It is slippery and rubbery (probably because it's been raining buckets here the last few days) and it's growing all over the old rock quarry in mound.

If you know what it is, please e-mail Steve's mom at



Blue Mound Grade School Fourth Graders

This is Mrs. Edward's class.

This plant looks a little bit like brussels sprouts on the ground.

It's actually greener than this picture makes it look. Some of us have it growing in our yards, too.

This is the view from on top of the kame.

We received several helpful answers from people who were kind enough to check out our site. Here is a sampling:

Looks like one of the thalloid liverworts to me, possibly one of the Marchantia spp. They are a very ancient and primitive non-vascular green plant. The holes on the leaves are their breathing pores. I have some that keep trying to cover the soil in a shady planter box. Some pix: http://www.kent.wednet.edu/staff/rlynch/sci_class/chap10/p_plants.html http://mac1252.botany.iastate.edu/Courses/201L/ex17/march.html http://www.tyler.cc.tx.us/science/Course/BIOLOGY/Majors/liverwort_thallus.jpg http://www.scibridge.sdsu.edu/coursemats/introsci/diversity/chlorobionta.html#liver http://home.clara.net/adhale/bryos/livworts.htm That's my story, and I'm sticking to it :-)
...Joanne Cook
Looks like liverwort to me. It's a very primitive plant. It doesn't set seed. It's more primitive than mosses and ferns. Real primoridial stuff. It just sort of creeps blob like along the ground. It reproduces either by spores which are held in these weird umbrella like sporangia or by little bits of tissue that nestle in little cup like structures on the surface. They look sort of like little bird's nests. I don't know the official name for this. Liverwort likes shade and lots of moisture. In Oregon it is a bane of nurserymen because it loves to live in pots.
...Jan Jeddeloh
You might want to get in touch with Tim Barth and his high school class at Belleville East. I sent you message on to him. They have a fabulous website up concerning all types of Illinois plants at http://www.schools.lth5.k12.il.us/bths-e. It is well worth the visit.
...Vicki Dewitt
Looks like a liverwort.
...Tim Barth, Belleville East High School
We would like to thank all the folks who helped us: the folks who sent us the answers above, and the folks who didn't know, but sent e-mail to people they knew who might know! We'd especially like to thank Jeff Tish, Lee Slider and Melody Arnold, who work at the Macon County Conservation District, and Judy Parrish, who teaches biology at Millikin University These good folks showed us all kinds of neat things about this place right in our own back yard. Oh yeah, and the moms and dads who helped out with food were great too!

This page updated 6/5/99 by Valerie Bock