Yet another thank you to Robert Klips (aka Orthotrichum@Flickr) for sharing one of his images of plants that often go unnoticed. This liverwort photograph, of Plagiochila asplenioides, was contributed via the UBC Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool. Thanks again, Robert.
Plagiochila asplenioides is has been collected from most continents of the world, except Africa, Australia and Antarctica. Most collections are from Europe, followed by USA and Canada in North America, and then a smattering elsewhere; I don’t have the resources available to me to determine whether this has to do with collection bias or whether it is truly rare outside of Europe and North America.
Known commonly as greater featherwort, this liverwort species is typically associated with damp soil substrates, though it can be found on rocks or decaying wood. One of the characteristics for identifying liverworts is whether the leaves overlap in a succubous or incubous manner. Succubous means that the leaves are arranged such that the forward portion of a leaf (the upper margin) is covered by the backward portion of the next upper leaf (and incubous means the opposite; the forward portion of the lower leaf covers the backward portion of the next upper leaf). Robert’s photograph doesn’t show this characteristic very clearly, because I think the liverwort is a bit dessicated (dried out), but the photograph on the Plagiochila asplenioides factsheet (PDF) from the British Bryological Society clearly shows that this species has succubous leaves. For additional reading on this subject, see Water Relations: Leaf Strategies (PDF) from a chapter in Bryophyte Ecology.