Blasia pusilla

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Identification notes

A smallish thallose liverwort which grows on the edges of paths, roadside banks, damp soil in ditches and the like. It looks a bit like the commoner Pellia species but has a number of eye-catching distinctive features. If present, amazing tube-shaped gemma receptacles poke up from the thallus like miniature elephants’ trunks. In addition, star-like gemmae, like tiny spiked mace-balls lie on the surface. Finally, close examination reveals dark spots within the thallus, restricted to a single line on each side of the faint, pale midrib. These are internal colonies of a blue-green alga.

So, there’s a fair bit to go on here and confusion is unlikely. Hornworts Anthoceros and Phaeoceros also have the dark spots of algal colonies within a similar-looking thallus, but these colonies are scattered and the thallus does not have the gemmae of Blasia. If fertile, hornworts have their unmistakable horn-like capsules, of course.

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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