Epiphyte (plant): what it is and where it grows


In the plant world a lot of interesting things. Some of his representatives catch and eat insects. Others climbed on their own kind in order to survive. This is how an epiphyte comes in - a plant that had to fight for life in difficult conditions. Thanks to this method of survival, the epiphytes were able to get more air, light and protect themselves from animals. But at the same time, they do not harm their “home” if there are not too many of them on it.


Where do epiphytic plants grow?

For a comfortable existence, they choose trunks or even leaves of trees. Epiphyte plants are abundant in tropical forests. The latter are dense thickets that do not allow sunlight to penetrate to the ground. Therefore, plants for some reason could not grow a strong tree trunk, which could serve as their support and raise the foliage, tried to survive in another way. They had to reach for the sunlight, using the help of their fellows. Epiphyte plants climbed up the trunks and branches of trees. So they acted not only in tropical forests, but also everywhere, where there were not enough living conditions, for example, in shady spruce forests or mountain crevices. If in the tropics, epiphyte is a herbaceous plant, then in rocks and coniferous forests these are mosses, ferns or lichens.


Multi-storey building

In the tropics, these representatives of the flora can choose the tier on which they will settle. Some of them are shade-loving and do not rise high. They do not need a lot of sunlight. Others need it, so they climb higher. On the highest “floors”, epiphytic plants grow only if they can withstand adverse conditions: low humidity, frivolity, fluctuations in air temperature, and nutritional deficiencies.

If there is no other way

How do they survive without being able to get everything needed for growth and life from the soil? The fact is that epiphyte is a plant that actively uses everything that the environment gives to it: it collects rainwater, dew, organic matter from the surface of a plant-support and the waste products of birds and animals. They make epiphytes in different ways, depending on which they have a different structure. Some of them collect moisture and can accumulate it up to 5 liters, due to the fact that they have the shape of an outlet. Others have leaves in the form of a pocket or funnel, which also accumulates moisture. Still others try to hold water, forming a “nest” around themselves of the fallen leaves of other plants and various wastes of the living world.


Reproduction of epiphytes

We know several ways of reproduction of representatives of flora. But not all are suitable for epiphytic plants. They chose the most popular and easy way - reproduction by seeds that fly by wind from tree to tree. In some species, they are small and light, in others they have special devices that facilitate air travel. Sometimes epiphytic seeds are carried by animals or plants. It so happens that these plants accidentally find themselves in a new place for them. This happens when animals or birds carry them on themselves. Tillandia has an interesting way of moving. This plant is fixed on the tree, dropping down its long light shoots, which easily come off under the influence of the wind and end up on another tree.


Need to hold on

In order to quickly gain a foothold and start growing on a new support, epiphytes have the ability to quickly grow roots. Even the smallest cling to the trunk or branch, sometimes girding them, as if tying the plant so that it could not move. Interestingly, the roots of epiphytes play the role of holders, and many of them have lost the ability to absorb nutrients, but provide breathing plants. An additional function of epiphytic roots is protective. They often grow sharp thorns that do not allow to derail their host or eat. However, there are certain types of insects for which this is not a hindrance, and they destroy leaves and roots (for example, tropical ants).


Epiphytes: examples of plants

Let's get acquainted with phalaenopsis orchids. Its appearance is indicated by a translation of its name - “butterfly-like”. This beautiful flower grows in Australia, New Guinea, South and Southeast Asia, as well as on the islands of the Malay Archipelago. His homeland is forests with high humidity and air temperature. For life, he chooses the topmost branches of the tree, which clings to the roots. Its accumulation of water contribute to its large fleshy leaves. And at night it is stored carbon dioxide.

Platicerium is also called "the antler". This fern grows on trees in the tropics. In nature, it reaches a giant size. There are several varieties of this plant, but they all resemble leaves, which resemble the flat antlers of a deer or elk. But at the same time with them on the platicerium grow other leaves. They have a concave shape and serve to collect organic matter. Cornish leaves are covered with a silvery fluff, which also picks up nutrients from the air and helps the fern to live.

Interestingly, epiphyte is a plant that can be grown at home. People loved them for their decorative and unpretentiousness. For example, the platicerium is placed in the shade, the temperature is observed, periodically sprayed, and it pleases its owners with an unusual look.

What kind of epiphytic plants grow in our home?

Another tropical resident who settled in our apartments is Verezia. It has bright leaves of beautiful coloring. To keep it you need diffused light. Interestingly, they pour water on the tree, pouring water into a socket, which experienced plant growers recommend to wipe with a napkin from time to time in order to fill it with fresh moisture. Interestingly, although verezia is an epiphyte, it is planted in the ground under ambient conditions.

Soil and leaves are recommended to spray to maintain moisture. Just like other similar plants, Verezia is fed, sprinkling the leaves, because its roots are weak and are not able to fully absorb nutrients.


To see the flower of Verezia, it must be kept in a warm place. And if this does not help, then one unusual way will help speed up the flowering. It is necessary to put a ripe fruit near the pot, preferably a banana. It will produce ethylene gas, which promotes flowering.

Not like everyone else

Another household resident who is settled in the soil is the cactus ripsalis. It does not look like we can imagine. It does not have a round or oval shape and is not covered with prickles. Rhipsalis is an armful of thin, long stems that descend. They are covered with hairs and have only 1-3 mm in diameter. This cactus blooms in winter. All shoots at this time are covered with small white or pinkish funnel-shaped flowers. Care for ripsalis is not difficult. The main thing is to choose a suitable place so that it is not hot and not dry. In general, the restriction for growing epiphytes at home is the impossibility of creating suitable conditions. In order for it to be successful, man continues to study and study their life in nature.

The world of epiphytic plants is large and diverse. It is impossible to tell all in one article. They not only set an example of survival in difficult conditions, teach not to give up and fight for life to the end, but also decorate the Earth. Not in vain from distant tropical countries, representatives of the epiphyte class, orchids, penetrated and became one of the most beloved flowers to us.

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