This family contains only one genus, Monoclea, which has one species (Monoclea forsteri) in New Zealand.

Monoclea forsteri

This liverwort is always found growing in damp and very shady areas, especially on rocks beside streams in dark gullies. Its thallus is a dark green, and given the right conditions, it can cover large areas.

This species is very distinctive, and has been the subject of much discussion amongst plant taxonomists as to how it should be classified. It was first collected by Forster on one of Captain Cook's expeditions, and incorrectly named Anthoceros univalvis. In 1820 it was renamed as Monoclea forsteri, and for a long time it was placed in the order Marchantiales. In 1961, it was finally placed in its own order, Monocleales, in which there is only one family - Monocleaceae.


This species is dioecious ie. it has separate male and female plants. In the book "The Liverworts of New Zealand", it says that male plants are comparatively rare, and that sporophytes (on the female plant) are rarely found. However, if you look at the image above, those little round raised things on the left of that image are where the antheridia (the part that produces the male sex cells) are produced - that is a male Monoclea plant in that photo.

The next three images are of female plants.

The one to the right shows a sporophyte developing, while the ones below show two mature sporophytes.

The capsules of these sporopytes split along one side only, and the brown "fluff" in the bottom right image is the spores being released.

Dont ask me how the male gametes manage to find the female gametes inside the archegonia of the female plants, but they travel through moisture covering the plants to get there.



liverwort index