Cryptogams are flowerless or seedless plants. These plants never bear flowers or seeds. They are lower plants with simpler body form. Many of these plants do not have distinct roots, stems or leaves.
Cryptogams or non-flowering plants are divided into:
Thallophytes are the simplest plants. The body of these plants is not differentiated into root, stem and leaves. This group includes bacteria, algae and fungi.
- Bacteria: Bacteria are very small organisms. They are not visible to the naked eye. They are single-celled, non-green plants found almost everywhere – in water, air and soil.
- Algae: Have you seen the slimy green bottoms of tanks or ponds? The slimy green growths are actually algae. Algae are tiny green plants of various forms. They mostly grow in water or in very moist places. Chlamydomonas, spirogyra and nostoc are some commonly found algae.
- Fungi: Have you seen cottony white growths on stale bread, chapattis or old shoes? Have you seen large umbrella-like mushrooms growing in damp places? An, have you heard of baker’s yeast used for making bread? All the three are different types of fungi. Fungi are non-green plants and hence cannot prepare their own food.
Bryophytes are small plants that grow in moist, shady places. They grow in clusters forming green carpets on damp soil, rocks, wells and tree trunks, especially during the rainy season. Bryophytes comprise mosses and liverworts. They lack true roots. Therefore, they seldom grow more than 50 cm in height.
You must have seen moss sticks used by gardeners to support weak plants and to help them grow. A moss stick consists of moss sphagnum wrapped around stick. This moss can absorb large amounts of water and keeps the plants moist.
All ferns fall under this group of plants. Like bryophytes, ferns grow well in cool, shady and moist places. However, they can attain greater heights. A few three ferns can grow up to 20 meters in height. Ferns are often used as ornamental plants because of their delicate leaves.