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Bazzania trilobata

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Bazzania trilobata desiccated                                        www.bazzania.com                                   Bazzania trilobata moistened

  By E.K.H. 2006                                                                                                                                                       By E.K.H. 2006


The genus Bazzania includes leafy liverworts named after one of Micheli’s patrons, a professor of anatomy from Bologna named Matteo Bazzani (Crum 1991). Although there are several hundred species of Bazzania spanning the tropics and subtropics Bazzania trilobata represents one of four European species (Scher et al. 2004, Yoda et al. 2004). The specific-epithet of Bazzania trilobata was given based on the three-lobed morphology of leaves.



Bazzania trilobata is often found in large clumps or dense widespread mats on boggy soils, forest ground, rotten logs, and at the bases of trees especially in cedar swamps and hemlock or boreal forests (Crum 1991, Glime 1993, Scher 2004).



The gametophyte is a vivid deep-green color, relatively large in size, with forked branching (looks just like a ‘Y’). Unlike most leafy liverworts, Bazzania trilobata has an incubous leaf arrangement. In this arrangement the three-lobed, or three-dentate, leaves of Bazzania trilobata are found in two rows (with a much smaller underleaf having 4-5 lobes), but the edge of the leaf closest to the tip of the branch overlaps the base of the next leaf. When one is looking from the stem toward the tip of the gametophyte you see the illusion of shingles on a roof. Most liverworts are succubous; the base overlaps the leaf behind it, giving the opposite effect. Small root like branchlets can be seen from the underside of the stem. Also unlike other liverworts, the leaves of Bazzania trilobata do not lie flat. Instead, the asymmetrical leaves drape down each side of the stem giving a much more three-dimensional appearance to the stem and leaves.



Spores are generally released in May and well into the summer (Crum 1991). Like other liverworts, soon after the spores are released from the sporangium the stalk (or seta) of the capsule becomes soft and collapses.  Both kinds of sexual branches of the dioecious Bazzania trilobata are ventral in origin and spindle-shaped perianths are obscurely 3-cornered above (Crum 1991).


Interesting Facts

Morphologically speaking, Bazzania trilobata is extremely interesting, but a few other characteristics also set it apart. For instance, some believe it to have the smell of sandalwood (Crum, 1991). Also, extracts of dichloromethane and methanol of Bazzania trilobata have been shown effective as a natural source for alternative pest management in crop protection by serving as an antifungal agent (Mekuria et al. 2005, Scher et al. 2004). One hundred-year-old herbarium specimens of Bazzania trilobata even helped unlock the key to the crucial factor in DNA isolation of liverworts. Jankowiak et al. (2005) found that successful DNA isolation lies in the method of drying, not the age of the sample. Only about twenty scientific articles have been published in the last twenty years focused on Bazzania trilobata. Most of the papers focused on lignan derivatives. The genus Bazzania even has a band named after it! http://www.bazzania.com



There is some resemblance, but very little relationship to, Lophozia barbata. On closer inspection one would find that the leaves of Lophozia barbata are four-lobed and succubous. Also, the underleaves are very inconspicuous (Crum 1991).


Literature Cited

Crum, Howard. Liverworts and Hornworts of Southern Michigan. 1991. Ann Arbor, MI. University of Michigan. Pp. 61-62, 178-179.

Glime, Janice M. The Elfin World of Mosses and Liverworts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and Isle Royale. 1993. Houghton, MI. Isle Royale Natural History Association. Pp. 87-88.

Jankowiak, K., K. Buczkowska and Z. Szweykowsda-Kulinska. 2005. Successful extraction of DNA from 100-year-old herbarium specimens of the liverwort Bazzania trilobata. Taxon. 54 (2): 335-336.

Mekuria, T., U. Steiner, H. Hindorf, J.P. Frahm and H.W. Dehme. 2005. Bioactivity of bryophyte extracts against Botrytis cinerea, Alternaria solani and Phytophthora infestans. Journal of Applied Botany and Food Quality-Angewandte Botanik. 72 (2): 89-93.

Scher, J. M., J.-B. Speakman, J. Zapp and H. Becker. 2004. Bioactivity guided isolation of antifungal compounds from the liverwort Bazzania trilobata (L.) S.F. Gray. Phytochemistry. 65: 2583-2588.

Yoda, H., Y. Nakaseko and K. Takabe. 2004. Studies toward a synthesis of trilobatin B, a lignan from the liverwort Bazzania trilobata: asymmetric construction of the tetrahydrofuran segment. Tetrahedron Letters. 45: 4217-4220.



Written by Emily K. Hollingsworth
May 2006


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