Lichens and liverworts resurrected – just add water!

This desert-adapted liverwort was one of the plants and animals that came to life during recent rains at Neds Corner Station. Photo: Marina Cheng

Lichens and liverworts play a vital role in holding together the soil crusts of arid and semi-arid Australia. To the untrained eye they can be hard to find when the country is dry.

Without moisture, lichens and liverworts shrivel up and stop photosynthesising.  However, they have a remarkable ability to come back to life.

Fungi expert Teresa Lebel from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne says that although the ground is dry and looks bare, add water and the lichens and liverworts will uncurl, spread their leaves and become soft and green again.

There are collections of lichens and liverworts at the Melbourne herbarium that are 100 years old and still come back to life when given the kiss of life — water!

The recent rain at Neds Corner Station Reserve made Teresa’s job easier. She was one of about 30 scientists who took part in the Bush Blitz survey to discover and record the fungi, plants and animals of this area.

The pobblebonk frog is emerging on Neds Corner Station near Mildura following recent rains. Photo: D Paul, Museum Victoria

Mim Jambrecina Bush Blitz

Bush Blitz is a biodiversity discovery partnership between the Australian Government, BHP Billiton and Earthwatch Australia that aims to document the plants and animals across Australia’s National Reserve System.

Neds Corner Station is owned and managed for conservation by Trust for Nature as part of the National Reserve System.