Western Australian Cryptogam Statistics
2017 Cryptogam Flora Statistics

Table 1. Analysis of the size of major cryptogamic groups for various categories of name; data sourced on 1 June 2017.
Category Fungi Lichens Myxomycetes Algae Bryophytes Total
Total names A 347 999 160 1,205 207 2,918
Non-current names B 94 183 0 71 14 362
Current names C 253 816 160 1,134 193 2,556
Species with infraspecies K 1 28 0 34 23 86
Current taxa D 252 788 160 1,100 170 2,470
Current species E 252 775 160 1,092 164 2,443
Manuscript names F 0 0 0 0 0 0
Phrase names G 0 0 0 0 0 0
Published species H 252 775 160 1,092 164 2,443
Published alien species I 4 0 0 5 1 10
Published native species J 248 775 160 1,087 163 2,433
Estimated species number L 140,000 1 700 2 200 5 9,000 3 400 4 150,300
  • The term taxa here refers to entities at species level and below
  • The term species refers only to those entities at species rank


A brief comparison of the 2017 data with the previous year (2016).

  • the net addition of 82 cryptogam names entered into the Census of Western Australian Plants database (including 52 synonyms);
  • an additional 31 current published native cryptogam species are now recorded in the Census: 16 algae, 12 fungi and 3 lichens;
  • the number of published native lichen species now significantly exceeds 2004 estimates. When publishing the lichen census for WA that year Cranfield2 estimated there would be c. 700 lichen species occurring in the State—there are now 775 recorded in the Census;
  • for other cryptogam groups however, the gap between the estimated number of species from the literature and the known described taxa recorded in the State's Census is significant.


Only for the lichens, myxomycetes and for the mosses (bryophyta) of the Perth region, could this information be considered adequate or representative of the diversity of the group. For the remaining groups, specialists have provided an estimate of the actual number of species that could be found to occur in WA once adequate field and taxonomic studies have been made.

  1. Fungi (both macro- and micro-fungi): Pascoe (1991) suggests the ratio of plants to fungi is about 1:10 in Australia, i.e. 25,000 plants (native and exotic), and 250,000 fungi. So, if WA has 14,000 vascular plants, then the estimated number of fungi in WA would be 140,000 (Neale Bougher, pers. comm.).
  2. Lichens (lichenised fungi): Ray Cranfield (pers. comm.) suggests that even with the recent publication of a State census of lichens (Cranfield, 2004), there are likely to be in the order of another 70 taxa likely to be discovered in coming years.
  3. Algae (including marine macro- and micro-algae, dinoflagellates, diatoms and freshwater macro-algae): The estimated number of macroalgae occurring in WA is 1,400, given that much of the northwest remains to be explored and we are still uncovering new records/species in all parts of WA (John Huisman, pers. comm.). Huisman goes on to say that “my earlier compilation of diatom/dinoflagellate and other microalgal records for WA included around 600 diatoms and 150 dinoflagellates (the other groups were negligible); marine and freshwater were included. The multiplication factor used by Watson et al. (1995) to estimate the world’s algal species was x10, so WA’s microalgae will probably add up to approximately 7,500 spp.” If we also allow around 100 species of freshwater macroalgae, then the putative number of algae will total some 9,000 taxa.
  4. Bryophytes refers here to the paraphyletic assemblage of mosses, liverworts and hornworts. Streimann & Klazenga (2002) list 212 moss taxa occurring in WA, and McCarthy (2003) lists 90 taxa of liverworts and hornworts. As these figures are comparable in size to those listed for the Australian Capital Territory (a region one-thousandth the area), we might expect there are a number of bryophytes yet to discover. Conservatively, the estimated number of taxa occurring in WA could be put at 400 (Ray Cranfield, pers. comm.)
  5. Myxomycetes (slime moulds): After the recent publication of a census of slime moulds (Knight and Brims, 2010) the estimated maximum number of taxa occurring in WA may be put at 200 (Karina Knight, pers. comm.)


Biggs, L. and Chappill, J., (2008). An annotated census of the mosses of the Perth Region, Western Australia. Nuytsia 18 (1) : 1–30.

Cranfield, R.J., (2004). Lichen Census of Western Australia. Nuytsia 15 (2) : 193–220.

Huisman, J.M., Cowan, R.A. & Entwisle, T.J. (1998). Biodiversity of Australian marine macroalgae — a progress report. Bot. Mar. 41: 89–93.

Knight, K.J. and Brims M.H. (2010). Myxomycota census of Western Australia. Nuytsia 20: 283–307.

McCarthy, P.M. (2003). Catalogue of Australian liverworts and hornworts. Flora of Australia supplementary series. Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra.

Pascoe, I.G. (1991). History of systematic mycology in Australia. In: History of Systematic Botany in Australasia. Ed by: P. Short. Australian Systematic Botany Society Inc. pp. 259–264.

Streimann, H. and Klazenga, N. (2002). Catalogue of Australian mosses. Flora of Australia supplementary series. Australian Biological Resources Study, Canberra.

Watson, R.T., Heywood, V.H., Baste, I., Dias, B., Gamez, R., Janetos, T., Reid, W. & Ruark, G. (1995). Global Biodiversity Assessment. Summary for Policy-Makers. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, New York, Melbourne. 46 pp.

Compiled by Alex Chapman; last updated on 8 June 2017.

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There is a diminishing relationship between figures in subsequent rows of the table, as figures in each category are subtracted from the ones above. For example: in each column: A − B = C.

Highlighted rows

Highlighted rows are the recommended figures if you need:

  • to cite the number of known entities in WA (D), or
  • a conservative estimate of the number of well-documented species (H).