The Plant Underworld focuses on lichens, liverworts, mosses and hornworts.
They are all around us and almost everyone sees them daily but how often do you notice them?
In Australia these organisms are poorly known and are often ignored in biological surveys, even by professional biologists. These organisms could be described as hidden yet in plain view. In short, they seem to have been consigned to the nether regions to the Plant Underworld.
Theres More To Life Than Flowers!
Lichens, liverworts, mosses and hornworts are all members of a group of organisms called cryptogams. Cryptogams vary greatly in structure but one feature common to all of them is that they do not produce flowers or seeds.
Cryptogams may be small and often overlooked members of the natural world but they have bizarre and beautiful life forms and they also play important roles in maintaining our environment.
What is a Cryptogam?
The early botanists did not know how organisms such as lichens, liverworts, mosses and hornworts reproduced.
The term cryptogam, from two classical Greek words kryptos = hidden and gamos = marriage, was used to describe these and similarly cryptic organisms such as algae, fungi and ferns.