by Piter Kehoma Boll
Time and again, if we want to understand all the nuances of life on Earth, we have to look to the small things that live close to the ground or on the bark of the trees. And one of this small creatures is the flat-leaved scalewort, Radula complanata.
Growing on rocks or trees, the flat-leaved scalewort is quite common in the northern hemisphere, especially in North America and Eurasia, and belongs to the diverse but hidden group of the liverworts.
In Europe, the flat-leaved scalewort occurs in dense forests, where it finds shelter to the direct exposure to the sun. In this forests, it shows a clear preference for growing on broad-leaved trees and shrubs, such as the goat willow Salix caprea and its hybrids. It usually grows friendly with other epiphytic liverworts on the same tree, although not much clustered.
Although usually harmless, the flat-leaved scalewort can cause skin irritation (more precisely, allergenic contact dermatitis) when handled, which seems to be related to the presence of certain alcaloids, such as bibenzyls, in its tissues.
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Asakawa, Y.; Kusube, E.; Takemoto, T.; Suire, C. (1978) New Bibenzyls from Radula complanata. Phytochemistry, 17: 2115–2117. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0031-9422(00)89292-4
Heylen, O.; Hermy, M. (2008) Age structure and Ecological Characteristics of Some Epiphytic Liverworts (Frullania Dilatata, Metzgeria Furcata and Radula Complanata). The Bryologist, 111(1): 84-97. https://doi.org/10.1639/0007-2745(2008)111[84:ASAECO]2.0.CO;2
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