A Review of Research on Cryptogams of Malawi for the Past 30 years (1987-2016): Progress, Challenges and Way Forward

  • Dickson M. Mazibuko
  • Wisdom Changadeya
Keywords: Cryptograms, challenges, conservation, research gaps, Malawi


Cryptogams are a unique group of plants whose ecological role in ecosystems is indisputable. Cryptogams are a key determinant of ecosystem biogeochemistry and known to support above ground biomass, control soil chemistry, provide habitats to nitrogen fixing bacteria and provide are food to other organisms. Compared with higher plants, cryptogams remain the least studied in Malawi and globally. This review aimed at assessing the scope and extent of research on Malawi‟s cryptogams, existing challenges and opportunities. A review of published literature between 1987 and 2016 was done using online search engines and library sources. This review showed that algae and bryophytes are comparatively well-studied groups represented by 70 percent (%) of all literature on cryptogams, particularly in Lake Malawi and Mulanje Mountain respectively. The ferns are the least studied, comprising just 15% of the reviewed literature. Further, no traceable study of lichens was encountered. Cryptogam research in Malawi is thus limited. This limitation could be due to lack of expertise in the field, limited laboratory infrastructure capacity and a general lack of appreciation for their importance. Considering the threat the different ecosystem in Malawi face, it is recommended that; local expertise, participation and infrastructure be improved so as to enhance cryptogam research in Malawi. Such an approach would ensure an increased local awareness of the value of cryptogams and foster informed conservation prioritization for cryptogams in Malawi.

Keywords: Cryptograms, challenges, conservation, research gaps, Malawi


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eISSN: 1019-7079