Two new distributional records of Liverworts (Marchantiophyta) from Meghalaya

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Botanical Survey of India, Eastern Regional Centre, Shillong – 793003
*Corresponding author: S.K. Singh


Two liverworts, namely Cyathodium aureonitens (Griff.) Mitt. (Cyathodiaceae) and Fossombronia pusilla (L.) Dumort. (Fossombroniaceae) have been recorded for the first time from the Meghalaya, of which the latter one is recorded for the first time from East Himalayan Bryo-geographical territory. The same have been described with relevant photographs.

Keywords Liverwort, Cyathodium, Fossombronia, meghalaya.


Bryo-geographically, Meghalaya is a part one of the eight recognized bryo-geographical territory of India (Singh, 1992, 1997). There are c. 40 taxa of thallose liverwort are known till date from Meghalaya (Singh & Nath, 2007). Recently, the first author recorded three species viz., Monosolenium tenerum Griff., Aneura pinguis (L.) Dumort. and Riccardia multifida (L.) Gray from here (S.K. Singh, unpubl.).

While foraying for the bryophyte taxa in Meghalaya, first author came across with some interesting species of liverworts which includes two unrecorded species from the State. A careful study identified them as Cyathodium aureonitens and Fossombronia pusilla. Both the species are recorded here for the first time from Meghalaya. It is also interesting to note that the occurrence of the Fossombronia pusilla from here recorded for the first time from East Himalaya bryogeographical territory. Specimens referred in the paper are deposited in the Cryptogamic Section of the Herbarium of Botanical Survey of India, Eastern Circle, Shillong (ASSAM).

Taxonomic description

Cyathodium aureonitens (Griff.) Mitt., J. Linn. Soc., Bot. 22: 327. 1887; S.C. Srivast. & R. Dixit, J. Hattori Bot. Lab. 80: 177. 1996. Synhymenium aureonitens Griff., Not. Pl. Asiat. 2: 344. 1849.

Thallus light green – deep green, delicate, 6 – 25 × 3 – 7 mm, irregularly branched; branches overlapping, forming irregular rosettes, or small mats; lobes linear, strap-shaped, margin entire. Dorsal surface smooth; dorsal epidermal cells thin walled, subquadrate – polygonal, 32.5 – 75 × 25 – 52.5 µm, chlorophyllose; lower epidermal cells comparatively larger than dorsal epidermal cells; pores large, usually confined to anterior part of the thallus, surrounded by 3 – 5 concentric rings of 4 – 6 cells each; air chambers in single layer, rarely 2 layered, without assimilatory filaments, partitions 3 – 5 cells high. Midrib absent. Rhizoids numerous on ventral surface of the thallus, hyaline, tuberculate and smooth walled. Ventral scales filamentous, biseriate, 4 – 7 cells long, chlorophyllose with terminal, rounded mucilage papillae. Tubers absent. Dioicous. Male receptacle not seen. Involucres 4 – 8 per thallus, borne at base of sinus between apical lobes of the thallus, shallowly bilabiate, rim bordered with hyaline elongated cells, dorsal surface beset with stiff hairs; hairs often arising from border cells as well. Sporophyte single in each involucre; capsule globose – subglobose, blackish brown, 595 – 856.8 µm; capsule wall single-layered with two tiered lid or operculum; lid 112.5 – 125 µm in diameter; outer tier 4 (-5), celled with or without thickenings on their outer walls; inner tier with 12 – 14, thin walled cells; upper half of the capsule dehiscing into 8, more or less equal valves after separation of apical disc; cells of the dehiscent part of capsule wall reddish brown with annular or semi-annular thickenings on radial walls and with prominent nodules on tangential walls; those of the non-dehiscent part without thickenings. Spores blackish brown, globose – subglobose, 45 – 62.5 µm in diameter, sometimes oval, 45 – 65 × 42.5 – 55 µm, densely covered with spines; spines pointed, 5 – 7.5 µm long. Elaters blackish brown, 384 – 556.8 µm long, 10 – 20 µm wide with bi – trispiral thickenings.

Distribution: India [Assam: Pandu, Guwahati ‘Gauhati’ (Kachroo, 1952); Himachal Pradesh: GHNP (S.K. Singh & D.K. Singh, 2007, 2009); Maharashtra: Bombay, Panchgani, Pratapgarh, Khandala, Konkan, Maharadjapore (S.C. Srivastava & Dixit, 1996); Sikkim: without specific locality (S.C. Srivastava & Dixit, 1996); Tamil Nadu: Kanyakumari, Agasthyamalai (Daniels, 2010); Uttarakhand: Dehradun, Mussoorie (S.C. Srivastava & Dixit, 1996), Chakrata (G. Asthana et al., 2008); West Bengal: Kolkata, Darjeeling (S.C. Srivastava & Dixit, 1996)], Myanmar
(S.C. Srivastava & Dixit, 1996), Thailand (Lai et al., 2008), Vietnam (S.C. Srivastava & Dixit, 1996), Africa (Wigginton, 2009).

Specimen examined: Meghalaya, East Khasi Hills, Mawsmai Cave, 25°14’ 40.8’’ N, 91° 43’ 26.9’’ E, 1200 m, Terrestrial, 08.11.2008, S.K. Singh s.n.

Fossombronia pusilla (L.) Dumort., Recueil. Observ.Jungerm. 11. 1835; S.C. Srivast. & Udar, Nova Hedwigia 26: 818.1975. Jungermannia pusilla L., Sp. Pl. 1136. 1753.

Plants delicate, green, usually forming patches on moist rocks. Stem (3-) 8 – 10 mm long, dorsally flattened, ventrally convex with tufts of purple rhizoids, dichotomously branched, apex not tuberous; in cross section oval, 10 – 11 cells across, cell parenchymatous, thin – walled, 255 – 262.6 × 195 – 200 µm, outer and inner cells not differentiated, cells (- 10) 17.5 – 50 × (-7.5) 12.5 – 37.5 µm, middle cells rarely containing fungal hyphae. Leaves simple, succubous, oblong-quadrate or ovate, obliquely inserted on the stem in two lateral rows, usually broader than long 0.51 – 0.78 mm long, 0.42 – 0.66 mm wide, margins entire – wavy or crisped, occasionally irregularly lobed, unistratose throughout except at the base where more than one cell thick, apical marginal cells quadrate – subquadrate, 20 – 55 × 12.5 – 40 µm, median cells pentagonal – hexagonal, 25 – 55 × 17.5 – 37.5 µm, basal cells elongated, pentagonal – hexagonal, 62.5 – 140 × 12.5 – 35 µm, cells thin walled. Dioicous. Antheridia not found. Pseudoperianth campanulate or inverted bell-shaped, margins highly undulate, lobed, open at one side by means of a longitudinal incision up to the base; calyptra thin or slightly thickened at the base. Seta hyaline, 2 – 5 mm long, 0.2 – 0.25 mm wide, 6 –8 cells across many celled. Capsule dark brown, globose, 666 – 714 µm in diam.; wall 2 layered, cells of the outer layer thin walled without thickening bands; cells of inner layer with usually incomplete, rarely complete dark brown thickening bands. Spores light – dark brown, globose  – subglobose, 37.5 – 47.5 µm in diameter; when oval 40 – 52.5 × 17.5 – 30 µm, distal surface with high and thick lamellae projecting at the periphery into 16 – 20 spines; lamellae not forming complete reticulations, rarely 1–2 reticulations seen; proximal surface without lamellae, perispore well developed but incomplete. Elaters yellowish brown, (67.5-) 105 – 165 (-205) µm long, 7.5 – 12.5 µm wide in middle, with 2–3 spirals thickening band.

Distribution: India [Tamil Nadu: Botanical Garden Ootacamund (S.C. Srivastava & Udar, 1975); Uttarakhand: Dehradun (S.K. Singh & D.K. Singh, 2007)], China (Piippo, 1990), Hawaii (Krayeski et al., 2005), Japan (Krayeski et al., 2005), Korea (Yamada & Choe, 1997), New Zealand (Glenny, 1998), Papua New Guinea (Krayeski et al., 2005), Taiwan (Kuo & Chiang, 1988), Thailand (Lai et al., 2008), Turkey (Krüschner & Erda?, 2005), Africa (Wigginton, 2009), Australia (McCarthy, 2006), Europe (Söderström et al., 2007), North America (Stotler & Crandall-Stotler, 1977).

Specimen examined: Meghalaya, East Khasi Hills, St. Anthony College Campus, 25°34’ 12.8’’ N, 91° 53’ 21.8’’ E, 1495 m, Terrestrial, 03.07.2011. S.K. Singh s.n.

Note: In India, this species is earlier known from Tamil Nadu in Western Ghats and Uttarakhand in Western himalaya. Present report constitutes its occurrence in East-Himalayan bryo-geographical territory for the first time. This species is closely related to Fossombronia wondraczekii in almost all the features except sexuality which is dioicous in F. pusilla and monoicous in F. wondraczekii. Perhaps the identity of F. wondraczekii is misunderstood in Asia as a result it has appeared several times in various publications. Krayeski et al. (2005) discarded the presence of Fossombronia wondraczekii in Asia.


The authors are grateful to Director, BSI, Kolkata and H.O.O., Botanical Survey of India, Eastern Regional Centre, Shillong for facilities and encouragement.


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