This is only the fifth time we've seen Ricciocarpus. It lives all over the world but is rarely found. We met it in Manitoba in 1985, and we've been watching for it in wetlands ever since. Other Liverworts are terrestrial, but this one floats, spreading a little mop of purplish rhizoids from its underside, to absorb nutrients from the water. It prefers calm, shallow water, and adapts to terrestrial life when the water level drops. Unlike the pond-blanketing duckweeds, the floating liverwort does not completely shade the surface, as its fringe of underwater rhyzoids keep its plants apart, increasing biodiversity by letting light down to other plants that support invertebrates, amphibians, and fishes.
Turning one of them over and rinsing off the mud, I peer into the mop of dark rhyzoids and notice one, then two, coppery-gleaming, "D" shaped 'eyes' with dark 'pupils'. I wonder if these are capsules for its spores... Searching the surface of the mud I see more of these one millimetre eye shapes scattered on the surface. Upon searching the internet for more information I find that its spore-producing capsules are embedded in the underside of the "thallus", and that one researcher "teased out" these organs and incubated them to produce spores. So the features that I am noticing may have been produced by something else, and just trapped by the rhyzoids of the floating liverworts.
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