Mesoptychia turbinata

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Identification notes

This is one of very few leafy liverworts that can be found on chalk and soft limestone in dry areas and its habitat is therefore one of the best pointers to its identity. Other than M. badensis, there are no other liverworts with a similar leaf shape that would grow in such places. The genus Mesoptychia (formerly Leiocolea) can also be recognised by having very obliquely inserted stem leaves, making plants look flattened. The oil-bodies of Mesoptychia, unlike many other leafy liverworts, often persist once plants have dried out, but all the same, they are best examined fresh under a microscope.

All Mesoptychia species are calcicoles and M. turbinata is one of the most slender of the eight British and Irish species. With M. badensis, with which it sometimes grows, it stands out from the others in lacking both aroma and underleaves, although you usually cannot see the latter in the field. Often, L. badensis has a somewhat messy appearance and it also tends to have leaves with broad, decurrent bases, unlike M. turbinata, where the leaves characteristically narrow at the base. However, it is always a good idea to put a bit on a slide to check for trigones. M. turbinata doesn’t have them, but they can be found in the cells of M. badensis – even if the leaves lack them the perianths and bracts nearly always have trigones.

M. turbinata often shares its habitat with other lime-lovers, such as Dicranella howei, D. varia, Didymodon tophaceus, Seligeria species, Pellia endiviifolia and Riccardia chamedryfolia.

Read the Field Guide account

Distribution in Great Britain and Ireland

View distribution from the BBS Atlas 2014

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