The plant consists of leafy shoots, the origin of which can be understood in the light of the foliose forms described above. The great majority of existing liverworts belong to this group, the general plan of construction of which is throughout very similar. In Britain thirty-nine genera with numerous species are found. With few exceptions the stem grows by means of a pyramidal apical cell cutting off three rows of segments. Each segment gives rise to a leaf, but usually the leaves of the ventral row (amphigastria) are smaller and differently shaped from those of the two lateral rows; in a number of genera they are wanting altogether. Sometimes the leaves retain their transverse insertion on the stem, and the two lobes of which they consist are developed equally. More often they come to be obliquely inserted, the anterior edge of each leaf lying under or over the edge of the leaf in front. The two lobes are often unequally developed. In Scapania the upper lobe is the smaller, while in Radula, Poretta and the Lejeuneae this is the case with the lower lobe. The folding of one lobe against another assists in the retention of water.
Pitcher-like structures have arisen in different ways in a number of genera, and are especially common in epiphytic forms (Frullania, Lepidolaena, Pleurozia). In some forms the leaves are finely divided, and along with the hair-like paraphyllia form a loose weft around the stem (Trichocolea). The rhizoids spring from the lower surface of the stem, and sometimes from the bases of the leaves. The branches arise below and by the side of the leaves.
Fig. 9. - Cephalozia bicuspidata. Longitudinal section of the summit of a shoot bearing a nearly mature sporogonium, sg, still enclosed in the calyptra; ar′, archegonia which have remained unfertilized; st, stem; b, leaf; p, perianth. (After Hofmeister.)
The sexual organs may occur on the same or on distinct individuals. The antheridia are protected by leaves which are often modified in shape. The archegonia are borne at the apex of the main stem or of a lateral branch. A single archegonium may arise from the apical cell (Lejeunea); more commonly a number of others are formed from the surrounding segments. The leaves below the archegonial group are frequently modified in size and shape, but the chief protection is afforded by a tubular perianth, which corresponds to a coherent whorl of leaves and grows up independently of fertilization. The perianth serves also to enclose and protect the sporogonium during its development. In a number of forms belonging to different groups the end of the stem on which the sporogonium is borne grows downwards so as to form a hollow tubular sac enclosing the sporogonium; in other cases this marsupial sac is formed by the base of the sporogonium boring into the thickened end of the stem. The sac usually penetrates into the soil and bears rhizoids on its outer surface. Kantia, Calypogeia and Saccogyna are British forms, which have their sporogonia protected in this way.
The sporogonium is very similar throughout the group (figs. 8, 9). At maturity the seta elongates rapidly, and the wall of the capsule splits more or less completely into four valves, allowing the elaters and spores to escape. In the Jubuloideae, which in other respects form a well-marked group, the seta is short and the elaters extend from the upper part of the capsule to the base; at dehiscence they remain fixed to the valves into which the capsule splits. The germinating spore usually forms a short filament, but in other cases a flat plate of cells growing by a two-sided apical cell is first formed (Radula, Lejeunea). In one or two tropical forms the pro-embryonic stage is prolonged, and leafy shoots only arise in connexion with the sexual organs. In Protocephalozia, which grows on bare earth in South America, this pro-embryo is filamentous, while in Lejeunea Metzgeriopsis, which grows on the leaves of living plants, it is a flat branched thallus closely applied to the substratum. Other cases of the plant being, with the exception of the sexual branches, apparently thalloid, are on the other hand to be explained as due to the reduction of the leaves and flattening of the stem of a shoot (Pteropsiella, Zoopsis).
The Acrogynous Jungermanniaceae fall into a number of natural groups, which cannot, however, be followed out here. They occur in very various situations, on the ground, on rocks and stones, on tree trunks, and, in the damp tropics, on leaves. Usually they form larger or smaller tufts of a green colour, but some forms have a reddish tint.
Fig. 10. - Anthoceros laevis. sp, Sporogonium; c, columella.
From Strasburger's Text-book of Botany.