The assertion that the blue-greens (‘cyanobacteria’) are bacteria and not algae has led to alternative concepts for both of the latter terms. Bacteria is now often used to designate the prokaryote kingdom, that includes the blue-greens, while in other contexts it means specifically those prokaryotes that are not blue-greens. The term algae, on the other hand, has no biosystematic implications; it encompasses many phylogenetically independent lineages characterized by oxygen-evolving photosynthesis. The algal status of the blue-greens is therefore not compromised by their classification among the bacteria. Current lichenological terminology, however, reflects the view that the blue-greens are not algae, thereby diverging from the concept of algae employed in phycology. The purpose and utility of terms that group organisms according to structural, functional and ecological criteria are insufficiently appreciated. These concepts do not compete with phylogenetic/biosystematic classifications, but rather complement them.