The hillside of Landour is rich in diverse species of mosses and Liverworts. It is also home to a distinct liverwort species, Reboulia hemisphearica. It is also known as the Purple fringed liverwort or small mushroom headed liverwort one of the liverworts found in this part of the hillside. These liverworts appeared to me as of little green ribbons with purple fringes.
The term liverwort originated from the fact that previously herbalists thought the liverworts had some resemblance to a liver – and some use as medicine for liver ailments. Hence the word liverwort for a “liver-like small plant“. There are different species of mosses and liverworts in Landour. These miniature forests of bryophytes are integral part of the ecosystem in the hillside.
After the long spell of winters, the snow blanket slowly melts away and diamond sparkled water drops seep inside the soil. The mosses underneath get sunkissed and breathe the fresh spring breeze blowing through the trees and the gently touching the soil and rock facets. Alongwith the mosses, liverworts also bask under the warm sunrays.
Like mosses, liverworts are land plants that do not have a vascular system. They produce spores instead of seeds just like the ferns. They mostly dwell in wet or moist places. Liverworts are not economically important to humans but they provide food for animals, facilitate the decay of logs, and aid in the disintegration of rocks by their ability to retain moisture.
Liverworts are distributed worldwide, though most commonly in the tropics. Thallose liverworts, which are branching and ribbon like, grow commonly on moist soil or damp rocks, while leafy liverworts are found in similar habitats as well as on tree trunks in damp woods. In the Indian medicinal system Reboulia hemisphearica is also used to stop bleeding, healing wound as anti inflammatory agent.
Reboulia hemisphearica is facing some threats worldwide due to global warming and climate change. Also, loss of undisturbed habitats through land-use change, highly invasive weeds and deforestation are some other factors responsible for the ecological habitat and survival of these unnoticeable gift of nature.