A big thank you to Huenchecal.@Flickr (aka Efe) for contributing today's photo via the BPotD Flickr Pool. The image is of Noteroclada confluens, a liverwort native to South America. It is a member of the Pelliaceae, a relatively small family with only two genera, Pellia and Noteroclada. There has been some confusion to whether Noteroclada is phylogenetically related to Fossombronia; however, the confusion is thought to stem from a historical mixing of characteristics between Fossombronia and Noteroclada as well as the addition of the synonym Androcryphia. Noteroclada is now thought to be clearly distinguished. Recently, a comprehensive study (complete with some excellent scanning electron micrographs) was conducted to settle the confusion and provide evidence for the modern classification of members of Noteroclada, see: Crandall-Stotler et al. 2010. On the morphology, systematics, and phylogeny of Noteroclada (Noterocladaceae, Marchintiophyta) (PDF). Nova Hedwigia. 91(3-4): 421-450.
Like other members of its genus, Noteroclada confluens often forms dense mats in moist areas along the banks of streams, ponds, bogs and seeps (but does not grow when submerged). Members of the Noteroclada are also known for their relationship with glomeromycotean fungi, which form a network of arbuscular mycorrhizae around the thalli (or undifferentiated vegetative tissue) of the liverworts. Another interesting feature of this species is the rather astonishing morphology of its sporophyte (spore-bearing structure), which can reach extraordinary lengths. For examples, see Noteroclada confluens with sporophytes and this image of an unidentified Noteroclada species with a sporophyte.