What are cryptogams?

Cryptogams (meaning “secret marriage”) are an informal grouping of biological organisms that reproduce by spores and not by seeds. A cryptogam can behave like plants and have plant characteristics but not all are photosynthetic (using sunlight to create energy). This includes but is not limited to organisms like mosses, liverworts, hornworts, lichens, ferns, and slime molds. Mosses, liverworts, and hornworts are referred to as bryophytes (meaning “tree-moss plant”).

What is WVCAS and what do we do?

We are a group of biologists, naturalists, and enthusiasts interested in the study and conservation of cryptogams. Our mission is to better understand, document, and map species distributions in West Virginia. We hope Academics and laymen alike can encourage growth in knowledge and share in techniques and identification of these unique group of organisms.

WVCAS aims to be the eventual hub and online repository for compiling species diversity data and checklists. By doing so we can identify current data gaps and needs in the state of West Virginia, allowing common species to remain common and rare species to be conserved.

How can I join or support?

Sifting through existing online repositories, social media, and historical documents to find species observations and turning them into tangible and mappable products takes time, as does inventory of physical collections and active field surveys. Additionally, learning how to identify these often cryptic organisms may take special equipment or expertise. By joining or donating to WVCAS, you support the work of dedicated volunteers and members that want to leverage their talents and personal interests towards this cause. See our Membership page for more information on what WVCAS can offer.