Hornwort is non vascular plant or bryophyte. It is also known as Pennywort and Bladderwort. The name itself suggests that it’s a small, narrow, tall and horned plant.
Hornwort is quite common and found almost everywhere in tropical forests, along streams and disturbed fields. They form greasy blue green patches. Some of them even cover a large area and sides of trees. Their unique morphology has lead many researchers to study their relationship with other primitive plants like Anthrocerophyta.
May it be a tropical forest, Hornwort only grows in a land that is damp or humid.
Horwort doesn’t bear flowers and spreads by producing spores. These spores emerge from the horn like structures that develop from the greenish sheet on its body called as thallus. The male and female gametes are produced from the respective plant’s thallus. A fertilised egg grows up to form a sporophyte (the horn like structure mentioned above).
They keep cycling between two stages throughout their life. One of them is the vegetating stage where they grow up to plants and another one is the hibernating stage which they adapt to sustain the extreme environmental conditions.
Hornwort requires moderate lighting, grows fast and comes in bunches. It can tolerate wide range of aquatic conditions giving the owner a shy about its maintenance. That’s why it is popular in aquatic plant trade. It is used as an oxygenating agent in water garden industry. They float on the water surface and can be propagated by spreading its pieces that form new plants.
The demersum species provides an excellent habitat for the fishes to lay eggs or to hide.
Traditionally, Hornwort is considered as a bryophyte, but characteristics like photosynthesis, haploid reproduction made the taxonomists allocate their own division, Anthocerotophyta.
HornHwort is believed to be one of the oldest surviving primitive plants. Cladistic analysis dates it back to the time when mosses and liverworts appeared.