Epiphyte

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An epiphyte is an organism that grows on the surface of a plant and derives its moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, water (in marine environments) or from debris accumulating around it. Epiphyte_sentence_0

Epiphytes take part in nutrient cycles and add to both the diversity and biomass of the ecosystem in which they occur, like any other organism. Epiphyte_sentence_1

They are an important source of food for many species. Epiphyte_sentence_2

Typically, the older parts of a plant will have more epiphytes growing on them. Epiphyte_sentence_3

Epiphytes differ from parasites in that they grow on other plants for physical support and do not necessarily affect the host negatively. Epiphyte_sentence_4

An organism that grows on another organism that is not a plant may be called an epibiont. Epiphyte_sentence_5

Epiphytes are usually found in the temperate zone (e.g., many mosses, liverworts, lichens, and algae) or in the tropics (e.g., many ferns, cacti, orchids, and bromeliads). Epiphyte_sentence_6

Epiphyte species make good houseplants due to their minimal water and soil requirements. Epiphyte_sentence_7

Epiphytes provide a rich and diverse habitat for other organisms including animals, fungi, bacteria, and myxomycetes. Epiphyte_sentence_8

Epiphyte is one of the subdivisions of the Raunkiær system. Epiphyte_sentence_9

The term epiphytic derives from the Greek epi- (meaning 'upon') and phyton (meaning 'plant'). Epiphyte_sentence_10

Epiphytic plants are sometimes called "air plants" because they do not root in soil. Epiphyte_sentence_11

However, there are many aquatic species of algae that are epiphytes on other aquatic plants (seaweeds or aquatic angiosperms). Epiphyte_sentence_12

Terrestrial epiphytes Epiphyte_section_0

The best-known epiphytic plants include mosses, orchids, and bromeliads such as Spanish moss (of the genus Tillandsia), but epiphytes may be found in every major group of the plant kingdom. Epiphyte_sentence_13

89% of terrestrial epiphyte species (about 24,000) are flowering plants. Epiphyte_sentence_14

The second largest group are the leptosporangiate ferns, with about 2800 species (10% of epiphytes). Epiphyte_sentence_15

In fact, about one third of all ferns are epiphytes. Epiphyte_sentence_16

The third largest group is clubmosses, with 190 species, followed by a handful of species in each of the spikemosses, other ferns, Gnetales, and cycads. Epiphyte_sentence_17

The first important monograph on epiphytic plant ecology was written by A.F.W. Epiphyte_sentence_18 Schimper (Die epiphytische Vegetation Amerikas, 1888). Epiphyte_sentence_19

Assemblages of large epiphytes occur most abundantly in moist tropical forests, but mosses and lichens occur as epiphytes in almost all biomes. Epiphyte_sentence_20

In Europe there are no dedicated epiphytic plants using roots, but rich assemblages of mosses and lichens grow on trees in damp areas (mainly the western coastal fringe), and the common polypody fern grows epiphytically along branches. Epiphyte_sentence_21

Rarely, grass, small bushes or small trees may grow in suspended soils up trees (typically in a rot-hole). Epiphyte_sentence_22

Holo-epiphyte or Hemi-epiphyte Epiphyte_section_1

Epiphytes however, can generally be categorized into holo-epiphytes or hemi-epiphytes. Epiphyte_sentence_23

A holo-epiphyte is a plant that spends its whole life cycle without contact with the ground and a hemi-epiphyte is a plant that spends only half of its life without the ground before the roots can reach or make contact with the ground. Epiphyte_sentence_24

Orchids are a common example of holo-epiphytes and Strangler Figs are an example of hemi-epiphytes. Epiphyte_sentence_25

Plant nutrient relations Epiphyte_section_2

Epiphytes are not connected to the soil, and consequently must get nutrients from other sources, such as fog, dew, rain and mist, or from nutrients being released from the ground rooted plants by decomposition or leaching, and dinitrogen fixation. Epiphyte_sentence_26

Epiphytic plants attached to their hosts high in the canopy have an advantage over herbs restricted to the ground where there is less light and herbivores may be more active. Epiphyte_sentence_27

Epiphytic plants are also important to certain animals that may live in their water reservoirs, such as some types of frogs and arthropods. Epiphyte_sentence_28

Epiphytes can have a significant effect on the microenvironment of their host, and of ecosystems where they are abundant, as they hold water in the canopy and decrease water input to the soil. Epiphyte_sentence_29

Some non-vascular epiphytes such as lichens and mosses are well known for their ability to take up water rapidly. Epiphyte_sentence_30

The epiphytes create a significantly cooler and more moist environment in the host plant canopy, potentially greatly reducing water loss by the host through transpiration. Epiphyte_sentence_31

Marine epiphytes Epiphyte_section_3

The ecology of epiphytes in marine environments differs from those in terrestrial ecosystems. Epiphyte_sentence_32

Epiphytes in marine systems are species of algae, bacteria, fungi, sponges, bryozoans, ascidians, protozoa, crustaceans, molluscs and any other sessile organism that grows on the surface of a plant, typically seagrasses or algae. Epiphyte_sentence_33

Settlement of epiphytic species is influenced by a number of factors including light, temperature, currents, nutrients, and trophic interactions. Epiphyte_sentence_34

Algae are the most common group of epiphytes in marine systems. Epiphyte_sentence_35

Photosynthetic epiphytes account for a large amount of the photosynthesis in systems in which they occur. Epiphyte_sentence_36

This is typically between 20 and 60% of the total primary production of the ecosystem. Epiphyte_sentence_37

They are a general group of organisms and are highly diverse, providing food for a great number of fauna. Epiphyte_sentence_38

Snail and nudibranch species are two common grazers of epiphytes. Epiphyte_sentence_39

Epiphyte species composition and the amount of epiphytes can be indicative of changes in the environment. Epiphyte_sentence_40

Recent increases in epiphyte abundance have been linked to excessive nitrogen put into the environment from farm runoff and storm water. Epiphyte_sentence_41

High abundance of epiphytes are considered detrimental to the plants that they grow on often causing damage or death, particularly in seagrasses. Epiphyte_sentence_42

This is because too many epiphytes can block access to sunlight or nutrients. Epiphyte_sentence_43

Epiphytes in marine systems are known to grow quickly with very fast generation times. Epiphyte_sentence_44

See also Epiphyte_section_4

Epiphyte_unordered_list_0


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphyte.