'Cryptogams' make up around 84 % of the worlds ‘botanical' diversity: they include the fungi (including lichens), bryophytes (mosses, liverworts and hornworts), the pteridophytes (ferns and horsetails) and algae.
Cryptogam research at RBGE covers a wide range of topics, including taxonomy, evolution, ecology and conservation biology. RBGE is a world leader in cryptogam research, gathering scientific information on this diverse, fascinating and important biological group.
Exploring cryptogams often challenges our perceived wisdom, and opens up a world of immense beauty and wonder.
Did you know?
- The largest organism in the world is a fungus - it covers an area of 8.9 km2.
- The oldest fossil moss is circa 320 million years old.
- Algae account for almost half the photosynthesis on the planet, producing every second breath of oxygen, and shaping the environment for life on earth.
- Ferns were eaten by dinosaurs - they dominated the ancient world of Jurassic forests.
- Lichens are biology's extreme survivors - they live in the driest deserts, the wettest forests and on the world's highest summits!
Find out more about RBGE research and staff interests:
- Bryology (mosses, liverworts and hornworts)
- Dr Neil Bell
- Ms Sally Rae
- Dr Laura Forrest
- Lichenology (lichens)
- Mycology (fungi)
- Dr Stephan Helfer
- Phycology (algae)
- Professor David Mann
Scotland's cryptogam diversity is internationally important. Cryptogams help to define Scotland's natural and cultural landscape: from the wild beauty of lichen-rich mountain summits, to the luxuriant moss flora in the temperate rainforest along the Scottish west-coast.
Scotland is home to 37 % of European lichen diversity, 45 % of European fern diversity, 58 % of European bryophyte diversity, and the majority of the UK's over 12,000 species of fungi!
RBGE research describes, explains and protects this biological heritage.
updated 3 December 2012