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Greater Scented Liverwort

Conocephalum conicum

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Conocephalaceae (Snakeskin Liverworts)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres long
Marshes, ponds, swamps, water, wetland.
The plant produces inconspicuous yellow-green flowers in the spring.
Greater Scented Liverwort typically grows in moist, shady areas and can spread by germination of its spores. It grows in clusters and has a distinctive, cone-shaped fruiting body that looks like a miniature pinecone.
This plant is a non-vascular plant, meaning it does not have roots, stems, or leaves. Instead, it is made up of tiny, round, greenish-brown thalli which are attached to thin, yellowish stalks. These stalks can reach up to 8 inches in length, and the thalli can reach up to 1/2 inch in diameter. The thalli contain tiny, unicellular filaments which absorb nutrients from the water. The plant is also capable of photosynthesis, using the sun's energy to produce its own food.
Other Names:
Hooded-leaved Conocephalum, Scotch Liverwort, Scotch Moss, Snakeskin Liverwort, Stalked Hornwort.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Conocephalum conicum, also known as the liverwort or hooded-leaved conocephalum, is a species of liverwort in the family Conocephalaceae. It is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, but can also be found in parts of North America and Australia, where it has been introduced. The plant typically grows in moist, shady places and can form large, dense mats. It is a small, green plant, with two distinct shapes of leaves. The upper leaves are hood-like, while the lower leaves are round or oval. The leaves are arranged in two rows around the stem, and are covered with small, raised bumps. The plant produces small, yellow-green flowers in the summer. C. conicum is a popular plant among gardeners, and is used in rock gardens and as a ground cover.


Greater Scented Liverwort, scientifically known as Conocephalum conicum, is a unique plant species that belongs to the liverwort family. This fascinating plant species is widely distributed across the world, growing in damp, shady, and humid habitats. It is commonly found in damp soils, rocky crevices, and on the bark of trees in temperate regions. This blog aims to highlight the unique features of Greater Scented Liverwort and its importance in the ecosystem.

Description and Morphology

Greater Scented Liverwort is a thallose liverwort species that has a flattened, lobed, and ribbon-like body structure. The plant body, called thallus, grows up to 50 cm long, forming a rosette-like shape. The upper surface of the thallus is greenish-brown or olive green, while the lower surface is pale green or whitish-green, with numerous rhizoids. The plant's surface is covered with warty bumps, giving it a scaly appearance. These bumps are actually reproductive structures known as sporophytes.

The plant reproduces through asexual and sexual means. The asexual reproduction occurs through gemmae, small, flattened, disc-like structures that develop on the plant's surface. The sexual reproduction occurs when male and female gametes fuse to form zygotes that develop into sporophytes.

Ecological Importance

Greater Scented Liverwort is an important component of the forest ecosystem. It plays a vital role in nutrient cycling, soil formation, and moisture retention. The plant's ability to grow in damp and shady habitats makes it an excellent indicator of water availability and soil moisture. It also acts as a bioindicator of air pollution, as it is sensitive to environmental stressors such as acid rain and heavy metal pollution.

The plant is also an important habitat and food source for many invertebrate species. It provides shelter and breeding sites for snails, slugs, and insects, which in turn serve as food for larger animals like birds and mammals.

Medicinal and Cultural Importance

Greater Scented Liverwort has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used to treat various ailments, including digestive problems, wounds, and respiratory infections. Recent scientific studies have also shown that the plant contains chemical compounds with antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.

In some cultures, Greater Scented Liverwort is considered a sacred plant with spiritual significance. It has been used in religious ceremonies and rituals to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits.

Greater Scented Liverwort is a fascinating and unique plant species that plays a vital role in the forest ecosystem. Its ability to grow in damp and shady habitats makes it an excellent bioindicator of environmental conditions, and its medicinal and cultural importance has made it a valuable plant in traditional medicine and spiritual practices.

More Information

Greater Scented Liverwort is also an interesting plant from a scientific perspective. It has been extensively studied by botanists, ecologists, and molecular biologists to better understand its biology, ecology, and evolution. For example, recent research has shown that the plant has the ability to regulate its water uptake and photosynthesis rates based on environmental conditions, allowing it to survive in fluctuating environmental conditions.

Furthermore, Greater Scented Liverwort is a valuable model organism for studying plant evolution and development. The plant's unique body structure, reproductive biology, and genetic makeup make it an ideal subject for investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying plant growth and development.

Despite its ecological and scientific importance, Greater Scented Liverwort is facing threats from habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change. As a result, conservation efforts are underway to protect and preserve the species. These efforts include habitat restoration, captive breeding programs, and education and outreach initiatives to raise awareness about the plant's importance and value.

In addition to its ecological and scientific significance, Greater Scented Liverwort has also been used for practical purposes. For example, in some cultures, the plant has been used as a natural dye for fabrics and textiles. The plant contains a natural dye called conocephalin, which produces a range of colors from light green to dark brown. This has led to the development of sustainable and eco-friendly dyeing practices, which reduce the use of harmful chemicals in textile production.

Furthermore, Greater Scented Liverwort has also been used as a bioindicator for environmental monitoring. The plant's sensitivity to pollutants and other environmental stressors makes it a valuable tool for assessing the health of ecosystems and identifying potential threats to human and environmental health. This has led to the development of biomonitoring programs, which use Greater Scented Liverwort and other bioindicators to track changes in environmental conditions over time.

Greater Scented Liverwort is a unique and fascinating plant species with significant ecological, scientific, and cultural importance. Its ability to survive in harsh and fluctuating environmental conditions, its medicinal properties, and its cultural significance make it a valuable and treasured species. As such, it is important to continue to study, protect, and conserve this remarkable plant for the benefit of both humans and the environment.

Greater Scented Liverwort is also interesting from a phylogenetic perspective. It is a member of the liverwort family, which is one of the earliest diverging lineages of land plants. Studying Greater Scented Liverwort and other liverworts can provide insights into the evolution of land plants and the transition from aquatic to terrestrial environments.

Moreover, Greater Scented Liverwort has also been used in bioremediation studies. Bioremediation is the use of living organisms to remove pollutants from contaminated environments. The plant's ability to accumulate heavy metals and other pollutants from the soil makes it a potential candidate for bioremediation of contaminated sites. Studies have shown that Greater Scented Liverwort can effectively remove heavy metals such as cadmium, copper, and zinc from contaminated soils.

Finally, Greater Scented Liverwort has also been used in the food industry. The plant contains a compound called conocephalol, which has antimicrobial properties and can be used as a natural preservative in food products. This has led to the development of new food preservation technologies that reduce the use of synthetic preservatives and increase the shelf life of food products.

Overall, Greater Scented Liverwort is a remarkable plant species with a wide range of ecological, scientific, cultural, and practical uses. Its unique features and adaptations make it a valuable subject of study and a potential source of solutions for various environmental and societal challenges.


Greater Scented Liverwort filmed at Fairy Glen, Parbold, Lancashire on the 26th February 2023.


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