What is a Cryptogam? Cryptogams (literally hidden reproduction) is a now disused umbrella classification for the non-seed bearing organisms incorporating Algae, Lichen, mosses (and other bryophytes), ferns and fungi. The organisms that are alien to the considered norm of the sexual reproduction process.
Or even more alien, Protist another semi defunct classification. The term protista was first used by Ernst Haeckel in 1866. Protists were traditionally subdivided into several groups based on similarities to the higher kingdoms: the unicellular “animal-like” protozoa, the “plant-like” protophyta (mostly unicellular algae), and the “fungus-like” slime moulds and water moulds. Most of these organisMORE
Yesterday I was at the British Library doing some more research on Minakata Kumagusu and his time in London. I was reading his contributions to ‘Notes and Queries’ journal and ‘Nature’ magazine. Reading the contributions in the context of the bound journals dating from the 1890s to 1920 it is fascinating to note how powerfully the aesthetic qualities of the fonts and layout, I guess the fashion, dates the information more poignantly than accessing transcripts on a computer. Kind of like realising Einstein was an Edwardian complete with kippers and calling cards. The brain inhabits a time, but the most interesting thoughts also remain applicable. Minakata’s later articles appear alongside notes on WWI slang from a retired Major, and discussions on wether women have an extra bone in the hand.
A few years ago while I was living in Japan doing a residency at the CCA Kitakyushu, I discovered one of the most interesting figures in Modernist Japan, the polymath Biologist/Folklorist Minakata Kumagusu. Most famous for his work on slime moulds and fungi, Kumagusu also was a collector of folklore and myth and a passionate advocate against shrine consolidation (and demolition); and for forest conservation .On a visit to Tokyo I saw a fantastic exhibition of Kumagusu’s specimen and field notes, all of fungi and moulds, the original pages contained very beautiful drawings and pressed examples of the specimens.
Minakata Kumagusu travelled and studied in the US, South America and Britain, very unusually for a Japanese person in the Meiji era (late 19th to early 20th cent), and could speak English, German, Spanish and many other languages. I am currentlMORE