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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Hepatica \He*pat"i*ca\, n.; pl. Hepatic[ae]. [NL. See Hepatic. So called in allusion to the shape of the lobed leaves or fronds.]

  1. (Bot.) A genus of pretty spring flowers closely related to Anemone; squirrel cup.

  2. (bot.) Any plant, usually procumbent and mosslike, of the cryptogamous class Hepatic[ae]; -- called also scale moss and liverwort. See Hepatic[ae], in the Supplement.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

late Old English lifenwyrt, from lifer (see liver (n.1)) + wyrt (see wort). A loan-translation of Medieval Latin hepatica. Applied to various plants with liver-shaped leaves or that were used to treat liver disorders. Similar formation in German leberkraut.


n. A type of bryophyte (includes moss, liverwort, and hornwort) with a leafy stem or leafless thallus characterized by a dominant gametophyte stage and a lack of stomata on the sporophyte stage of the life cycle.


n. any of numerous small green nonvascular plants of the class Hepaticopsida growing in wet places and resembling green seaweeds or leafy mosses

Usage examples of "liverwort".

Each antheridium or archegonium arises from a single cell, and while the mature structure is similar in the two groups, the development presents differences in liverworts and mosses.

Without entering into details it may be mentioned that in the mosses it proceeds both in the archegonium and antheridium by the segmentation of an apical cell, while this is not the case in the liverworts.

In spite of this, however, they are in great part dependent on the absorption of water through the general surface of the shoot, and the power of rapid imbibition possessed by their cell-walls, the crowded position of the small leaves on the stem, and special adaptations for the retention of water on the surface, have the same significance as in the foliose liverworts.

Similarly, black hellbore, which bloomed in winter, had the power of rejuvenation, and liverwort and kidneywort had the shape of the parts of the body that they could be used to cure.

Fungal hyphae occur in the rhizoids and in the cells of the lower region of the thallus of many liverworts, as in the endotrophic mycorhiza of higher plants.

On the other hand, the Sphagnales show such considerable and important differences from the rest of the mosses, that like the Anthocerotales among the liverworts, they may be regarded as a group, the relationship of which to the main stem is at least problematical.

Their general similarity to the mature antheridia and archegonia of liverworts and the main difference in their development have been referred to.

Along the lower courses of the walls of these ducts grew expanses of green liverwort, while the parapets, where the stones remained dry, were covered with blue-tongued lichens, their scarlet apothecia upstanding like myriads of minuscule warriors on guard above the sacred water below.

With hardly an exception the liverworts are dorsiventral, and usually one side is turned to the substratum and the other exposed to the light.

It is surrounded by a small mossy rectangle of fireweed, liverworts, huckleberry, ferns, and magic psilocybin mushrooms.

Invigorated by the absence of normal light, monstrous mushrooms and toadstools and liverworts clambered wildly over fallen logs and old stumps.

He mentioned frivolous treatises that considered it a curable disease responsive to various prescriptions: liverwort, cinnabar, musk, silver mercury, anagallis flore purpureo.

Maggie herself was stumbling, tripping over roots, slipping on club moss and liverwort.

The lichen Pettigora canina is known as English or Ground Liverwort.

More plants bloomed as the spring months passed, first early ones like promise-of-spring and snow liverwort, then later ones such as phlox and heather, then saxifrage and Tibetan rhubarb, moss campion and alpine nailwort, cornflowers and edelweiss, on and on until every patch of green carpet in the rocky palm of the basin was touched with brilliant dots of cyanic blue, dark pink, yellow, white, each color waving in a layer at the characteristic height of the plant holding it, all of them glowing in the dusk like drips of light, welling out into the world from nowhere—a pointillist Mars, the ribbiness of the seamed basin etched in the air by this scree of color.