Epiphytic plants: surprisingly, orchids can grow on trees
Epiphytic plants are unique plants that grow on the surface of other plants, mainly trees. They do not parasitize their hosts, but use them only as a support for their growth. Such plants can be found in tropical and subtropical forests around the world.
Photo: creativecommons.org by Geoff Gallice is licensed under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en
There is a huge variety of epiphyte species, which differ in their characteristics and adaptations to life in trees. Some of them have aerial roots that allow them to obtain moisture and nutrients from the air, others have special villi on the leaves that collect water and nutrients from the fog. There are also epiphytes that form dense shrubs or even small trees on the branches of their hosts.
One of the most famous types of epiphytes are orchids. These beautiful flowers can be found on trees in the tropical forests of South America, Africa and Asia. Orchids have special roots that form dense tubers in which they store water and nutrients. They are also able to adapt to different conditions, thanks to which they can grow at different heights and on different types of trees.
Another interesting type of epiphyte is bromeliad plants. They have wide and fleshy leaves that form a water reservoir. Bromeliads also have special hairs on their leaves that allow them to absorb moisture from the air. Some species of bromeliads even produce flowers that provide shelter for small animals such as frogs and lizards.
One of the most unusual features of epiphytes is their ability to self-purify. Most of these plants have a smooth surface that does not retain dust and dirt. This allows them to get enough light for photosynthesis and not waste extra energy cleaning leaves.