(pl. cryptogams, phanerogams)
Terms discussed: phaenogam (pl. phaenogams)
Cryptogam means "hidden seed", and refers to fungi, mosses, and liverworts. These organisms reproduce by means of spores, which are too small to be seen. Because no one could find their "seeds", great controversy ensued, early in the history of botany, over just how cryptogamic plants reproduced. Although fungi are not plants, they were thought to be plants when the term was invented; so, for much of history, it has applied to them. Similarly, today, mycologists work in Botany departments, specifically in the department (if there is one) of cryptogamic botany.
Plants with visible seeds (flowering plants and gymnosperms) are called phanerogams.
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Asa Gray uses the term phaenogam instead.