Thursday, 23 July 2009

Liverwort

Strange, lower plant life in evidence this morning as we walked around the lake at Locko Park near Derby. Be specific, Common Liverwort (Marchantia polymorpha).
An oddity indeed as it clings to the surface of the soil using root-like structures known as rhizoids. The shiny 'leaves' are not actually leaves at all they are called thalli and can grow to several centimeters in length and up to 2cm wide, although these were much smaller. Mature specimens produce either male or female reproductive structures which rise from the middle of the thalli to form diminutive umbrella-like organs in the male plants, called antheridiophores, or things which look like minute palm trees in the case of the females, called archegoniophores. The plants in my pictures seem to be all females and have the appearance of a Lilliputian palm forest, about 1" high.
On a completely different note - and a much larger one, among the ducks and coots on the lake were several Greylag Geese (Anser anser).
Greylags are the largest of our native geese and are the ancestors of all our domesticated, 'farmyard' geese. Although a resident species in Britain their numbers are boosted during the winter by migrants from further north. It is thought there are some 3,200 pairs of wild Greylags in Britain, with at least 30,000 individual 'feral' birds. During the winter there may be as many as 92,000 wild birds feeding on grass, roots and spilled grain.
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