What Are the Differences Between Mosses and Liverworts?

One difference between mosses and liverworts is that mosses do not have a flattened leaf appearance, whereas liverworts can have a two or three row flat leaf pattern. This is one of six major differences between the two, which are both members of the bryophyte family.

In moss, the capsule that opens to produce spores is complex, using peristome teeth that line the edge of the capsule, while the liverwort opening is divided into four different sections. The opening rises up, and when the weather is dry, the capsule unfolds to release the spores.

The root-like structures in liverworts are a single cell, while for mosses they are multi-cellular. Because it is not a true root system, mosses must cling together to retain moisture and humidity.

Mosses have a leaflike projection, while liverworts can be leaflike or have flattened ribbons of green tissue. Liverwort leaves usually occur in two rows, but some species contain a third row of smaller leaves. This leaf arrangement is another difference between the two.

Mosses have a riblike structure in the leaves. The liverworts have no rib in their structure, but the flattened ribbons vary in thickness, and may even be divided into different lobes.