Page:Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 30 214-224.djvu/2

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The Genus Riella, with Descriptions of new Species from North
America and the Canary Islands

By M. A. Howe and L. M. Underwood

(With Plates 11 and 12)

The genus Riella occupies a unique position among the Hepaticae. The striking peculiarities of its gametophytic phase have attracted the attention of such morphologists as Hofmeister, Leitgeb, and Goebel, in addition to the interest excited among those who have devoted themselves more exclusively to a study of the systematic relations of the Hepaticae. Riella helicophylla, an Algerian species, is alluded to in some of the standard botanical text-books as being peculiar among the liverworts in having a leaf-like lamina or wing disposed spirally in relation to the axis or stem. Later studies of this species, however,[2] indicate that the supposed helicoid spiral arrangement was exaggerated in the original figures and description and that the spiral appearance is due to the slight torsion of a stem bearing a strongly undulate lamina. Nevertheless, the species of Riella in general are peculiar enough in that the lamina or wing appears at first sight to be attached to one side of the stem; but the position of the sexual organs, of the root-hairs and of the scale-like appendages shows that the plant is bilaterally symmetrical in the plane of the wing and the conviction is now general that the wing is dorsal in relation to the stem. Goebel[3] has expressed the opinion that the chief difference between Riella and the other liverworts is that in Riella the development of the thallus is in the vertical instead of in the horizontal plane. The species of Riella are all aquatic, commonly growing entirely submerged, and it is doubtless this condition of growth which makes possible the leading peculiarity in form.

The growing point of a young plant or of a young branch of

  1. Read in abstract before the Botanical Society of America, Ninth Annual Meeting, Washington, D. C., December 31, 1902.
  2. Trabut, Rev. Gén. Bot. 3: 451. 1891. Stephani, Bull. Herb. Boiss. 7: 659. 1899.
  3. Flora, 77: 107. 1893.