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Marchantia: are they taking over the world?

  • Marchantia: are they taking over the world?

You might not recognise the name, but you will certainly know what Marchantia (common name Liverwort) are - they form flat plates of shiny green growth on the surface of pots, with strange round suckers or sockets, looking like some sort of organic Lego.

Then, without warning, they will suddenly send up a miniature forest of tiny palm trees, less than an inch high (oh, all right, less than 2.5cm grumble grumble) but perfect in shape and form. I suppose that someone, somewhere, must like them, but this year they are driving me mad.

Presumably in response to the pathetic summer that we have had, my front garden has been infiltrated by these slimy little bryphoytes (ok, they are not actually slimy, but they look as though they ought to be) and I have spent all summer going round all the pots in the garden on a Forth Bridge basis, scraping them off, and topping up the soil.

And then I found the poor little fellow in the photo, above. Earlier in the year I'd pruned one of my Thujopsis dolobrata, and had pushed one of the offcuts into a small pot of soil: they are incredibly easy to propagate, as that is, quite literally, all you have to do. Somehow, he'd avoided scrutiny for the best part of the year, and look at him now! You can barely see the plant for the weeds! hangs head in shame

So I guiltily scraped off the liverworts, checked his roots (coming along nicely), topped up the soil and put him back out, having made a mental note to be a bit more concientious in future.

I have never been troubled with liverworts until the last year or two: is this a sign of climate change? Or is my front garden getting damper? Am I watering too much? Certainly I have at least two frogs living in it, which explains why I have no slugs... I still have snails though, so if anyone knows a thrush who is looking for a nice place to live, please send them along. Anvil stone provided.

Comments (6)

  1. Grower

    Amanda CW

    Hi Rachel - other weeds, slugs and snails all have a field day in our garden, but no Liverworts? I wonder why? We have quite heavy clay soil. Could that be a reason? Or something else?

  2. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Hi Amanda,

    I don't know - clearly they like things damp and a bit dull, (a horrible way to describe my own front yard!) and as I said, I have never had them before the last year or two. I do have an awful lot of plants in pots, and I water them quite liberally as it's done with water butt water (ie free), so presumably it's my own fault for providing the conditions they obviously love.

    If you are short of any weeds, slugs, or snails, I can always send you a few? laughs

  3. Grower

    The GPS Team

    Hi Rachel,

    We just found this authoritative summary of the Liverwort problem in nurseries and what you can use to control their growth on the Oregon State University web site. Hope this helps you find a solution with UK equivalent products.

  4. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Hi Team,

    Huh! How very interesting, not least because in Oregon, they consider these Liverworts to be " of the most difficult to control weeds in nursery production"

    Personally, I think that being a bit more vigilant is the answer: if I scrape them off as soon as they start to form, they don't get a chance to go into their breeding phase, and hopefully eventually I will get rid of them. I am not at all keen to use any sort of chemical control, mostly due to the risk of harming my "stock" of plants with overspray, but also because of a general wish to use the least amount of chemicals on the garden - I'm sure that most of us here feel that way.

    I am hoping that if we have a hot dry summer - ah, does anyone remember the days when we used to get hot dry summers? - they will all die off, and I might stand a chance of getting clear of them.

  5. Grower

    The GPS Team

    We couldn't agree more with using as few chemicals as possible Rachel. Do let us know how the hot summer (we hope!) vigilant strategy goes. Others will be keen to know.

  6. Grower

    Rachel the Gardener

    Have booked hot, dry summer for next year!

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