Scientific Name

Asterella californica (Hampe) Underw. 

Family

Aytoniaceae 

General

     Asterella californica is a liverwort, a type of simple, nonvascular plant, related to mosses.  Like mosses, liverworts are restricted to moist habitats.

CI

     Astrella californica is found widely around CI, but only in well-shaded habitats (such as the shadiest parts of north facing slopes).  It is active (green) only in the days or weeks following rainfall.  It is dry and inactive most of the year; in this condition is appears as a black crust on the soil surface.

     Asterella californica is dioecious.  Male plants with mature antheridia have very rarely been observed during this survey (photograph of one below).  Female plants with archegonophores are common.

 

 asterella-californicaTypical patch of vegetative thalli from hillside to the south of University Glen.  No sexual structures apparent (19 February 2005).

 

asterella-patch-2013-2 A fairly large patch of Asterella growing the shade of a rock face in the University Park (5 February 2013). 

 asterella-patch-female-2011-3Female thalli showing the umbrella-lilke archegoniophores which produce eggs, on the north facing hillside above Malibu Hall, CI (11 January 2011).

 asteralla-female-close-2011-1

Closer view of female thalli showing developing archegoniphores, on the north facing hillside above Malibu Hall, CI (11 January 2011).

 asterella-female-close-2005-1Closer view of female thalli showing developing archegoniphores, on the north facing hillside above Malibu Hall, CI (15 February 2005).

 asterella-male-2013-1Patch of male Asterealla californica.  The antheridia (sperm producing structues) are the oval bodies on the upper surfaces of the thalli, on a north facing hillside above University Park, CI (5 Februrary 2013).

 asterella-dry-2013-1A patch of dry, dormant Asterella californica, north facing hillside above University Park, CI (5 February 2013).  Within 20 mintues of a soaking rainfall, these seemingly dead thalli start to swell with water and turn green.