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A liverwort
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From Middle English liverwort, lyverwort, from Old English liferwyrt, equivalent to liver +‎ wort, from the belief that some species looked like livers and were useful for treating the liver medicinally.



liverwort (countable and uncountable, plural liverworts)

  1. A type of bryophyte (includes mosses, liverworts, and hornworts) with a leafy stem or leafless thallus characterized by a dominant gametophyte stage and a lack of stomata on the sporophyte stage of the life cycle.
    • 1929 — Shiv Ram Kashyap, Liverworts of the Western Himalayas and the Panjab Plain, vol. I, p. 1.
      The liverworts are either thallose, without any differentiation into stem and leaves, or leafy.
    • 1985 — W. B. Schofield, Introduction to Bryology, p. 135
      Since the thallus of some liverworts resembled a liver, such plants were considered useful in making a concoction that would aid in curing liver ailments. Hence the name "liver-plant," or liverwort. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that liverworts possess curative properties.
    • 2000 — Barbara Crandall-Stotler & Raymond E. Stotler, "Morphology and classification of the Marchantiophyta". pages 21-70 in A. Jonathan Shaw & Bernard Goffinet (Eds.), Bryophyte Biology, page 21.
      Like other bryophytes, liverworts are small, herbaceous plants of terrestrial ecosystems.


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