late Old English lifenwyrt, from lifer (see liver (n.1)) + wyrt (see wort). A loan-translation of Medieval Latin hepatica. Applied to various plants with liver-shaped leaves or that were used to treat liver disorders. Cf. German leberkraut.
Any of numerous small, green nonvascular plants of the division Marchantiophyta. Many liverworts reproduce asexually by means of gemmae. They also reproduce sexually, and their free-swimming sperm, produced in structures called antheridia, require liquid water, such as splashing raindrops, to reach the egg-producing archegonia. After fertilization, the small sporophyte grows directly on or in the gametophyte and is nourished by it. Liverworts are common in the tropics and often grow in moist soil, on damp rocks, and on tree trunks. Some liverworts have leafy bodies, while others have only a simple thallus. The name liverwort comes from the liverlike shape of the thalli of some species. See more at bryophyte.