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This article is about the genus of liverwort. For the bryozoan genus, see Lunularia (bryozoan).
Lunularia can also reproduce sexually, as illustrated by Haeckel in this drawing of an archegonial head with (diploid) sporophyte plantlets. The main plant body (thallus) is haploid
Lunularia cruciata.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Marchantiophyta
Class: Marchantiopsida
Order: Marchantiales
Family: Lunulariaceae
Genus: Lunularia
Species: L. cruciata
Binomial name
Lunularia cruciata
(L.) Dumortier, 1822

Lunularia cruciata or crescent-cup liverwort is a liverwort of order Marchantiales, and the only species in the genus Lunularia and family Lunulariaceae. The name refers to the moon-shaped cups, from Latin luna, moon.

Lunularia occurs commonly in western Europe, where it is native to the region around the Mediterranean. It is also common in California, where it now grows "wild", and is known as an introduced weed in gardens and greenhouses in Australia.[1] In America, the species grows only as a sterile form, easily recognized by the crescent-shaped cups containing asexual gemmae.

The discus-shaped gemmae are readily dislodged from the cups by splashes of rainwater. They can then quickly "take root" and start to grow in suitably damp places, which is why they are so successful in greenhouses.

Lunularia is not purely asexual; it can also reproduce sexually (see illustration) with four archegonia arranged in a cross-shaped head bearing diploid sporophyte plantlets. As in other liverworts, the main plant body or thallus is a haploid gametophyte.

Lunularic acid, a dihydrostilbenoid, is found in the L. cruciata.[2]


  1. ^ Schuster, Rudolf M. The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America, volume VI, pages 80-91. (Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History, 1992). ISBN 0-914868-21-7.
  2. ^ Lunularic acid, a common endogenous growth inhibitor of liverworts. R. J. Pryce, Planta, 1971, Volume 97, Number 4, pages 354-357, doi:10.1007/BF00390214

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