India’s first cryptogamic garden was inaugurated by social activist Anoop Nautiyal in Deoban area of Chakrata town, Dehradun, Uttarakhand on July 11, 2021. The garden houses nearly 50 species of ferns, fungi, algae, bryophytes, and lichens.
The garden at Deoban is located at a height of 9,000 ft. The Chief Conservator of Forest (Research) Sanjiv Chaturvedi said, “We chose to locate the garden, which is spread over three acres, at Deoban because of low pollution levels and moist conditions conducive to the growth of these species,” Chaturvedi said.
The forests of Deodar and Oak in Deoban, Uttarakhand make a natural habitat for cryptogamic species for the ferns, fungi, and lichens.
What are Cryptogams?
• Cryptogams are referred to as non-seed generating or non-flowering plants or spore-producing plants that require moist conditions to survive. These are the oldest groups of plant species. They are known as Cryptogams because of their hidden reproduction.
• Ferns, fungi, algae, bryophytes, moss, liverworts, and lichens are the best-known groups of cryptogams.
• Uttarakhand houses 346 species of algae, 365 species of pteridophytes, 478 species of bryophytes, and 539 species of lichens.
Types of Cryptogams in the garden
• Algae comprising the most primitive organisms, predominantly aquatic, in both marine and freshwater habitats. Algae species are used as liquid fertilizers, biofertilizers that aid in repairing nitrogen presence in soil.
• Bryophytes, simplest and primitive land plants, aid in indicating and monitoring air pollution, preventing soil erosion, binding soil particles.
• Lichens, a complex life form of two separate organisms – algae and a fungus, aid in the formation of soil over the rocky surface. These are used as pollution monitors for their high sensitivity to atmospheric pollutants.
• Mosses, known for their high-water retention and antimicrobial properties, are widely used for the packaging and transportation of plants.
Ferns, the largest living group of primitive vascular plants, accumulate heavy metals thus aid in preventing pollution and indicating the moisture regime of the area.
• Fungi, multicellular eukaryotic organisms, are heterotrophs.
Significance of cryptogamic garden
• The Chief Conservator of Forest (Research) Sanjiv Chaturvedi explained that the aim of a cryptogamic garden is to promote awareness about cryptogams and their important role in our environment and ecology.