cryptogam. A group of plants without flowers and without embryo—containing seeds.
The Great Groups of Cryptogams Or Flowerless Plants

The Cryptogams are plants without true, or without visible flowers; to these belong the shave grasses, the ferns, the mosses, the algæ, the lichens, and the fungi.

The Horse-tail  (Equisetum arvense ), frequently grows in damp, sandy fields. The spring stem of the plant is simple and reddish in color, and bears fruit called spores in an upright ear.

The Wall Rue  (Asplenium Ruta muraria ), belongs to the family of ferns. It grows everywhere on walls, and has a short root, three-cornered leaves, and along both sides of the middle ribs of the leaves the fruit lies in rows.

The Common Fern  (Polypodium vulgare ), grows on walls and rocks. It has a creeping stem, and beautiful serrated leaves, bearing on their underside the somewhat large fruit glands which contain the spores. Other familiar ferns are the Worm Fern  (Aspidium Filix mas ), and the Eagle Fern  (Pteris Aquilina ), from three to five feet high.

The Common Hair Moss  (Polytrichum commune ), grows in all the woods and in wet fields. The stem is upright; the small leaves are pointed and serrated at their edges. The spores develop in a quadrangular sheath, which is surrounded by a cell. The mosses play an important part in the economy of Nature; they retain in the woods a quantity of the water which falls as rain, and thus preserve the lands from being flooded, store up moisture for the plants, and also influence the climatic conditions of a country. The so-called Peat-moss (Sphagnum ) enters largely into the composition of peat.

The Reindeer Moss  (Cladonia rangiferina ), is a much-branched little plant of a greyish color. The small fruit corpuscles are at the ends of the branches. The reindeer moss is common in the pine woods of northern Europe.

The Toad's-stool  (Agricus muscarius ), grows in the woods in autumn. The blood-red cap has numerous white excrescences on its surface. It is very poisonous and ill-smelling, and has a bitter taste. It is often used as a poison for flies, but is also dangerous to men and animals.

The Mushroom  (Agricus campestris ), is common from May to October in fields, gardens, and meadows. It has lately also been cultivated in cellars and greenhouses. It is a favorite article of food, and one of the most useful of the edible fungi.