AIR PLANTS (Epiphytes)

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Epiphyte  Air Plants or Epiphytes have no root connections to the soil. They use plants,  poles  and other objects for support-but not for nutrition. They are not parasites. Most kinds have chlorophyll and manufacture their own food by absorbing moisture and gases from the atmosphere. Many  kinds of airs plants grow in the tropics subtropics. By growing high on branches of trees they get sunlight. Many orchids are air plants.

Orchid-Natural epiphyte

Orchid

Spanish Moss and dozens of other members of the pineapple family are also epiphytes. Sometimes tangled growths of Spanish Moss become so dense that they break the branches of trees,  but otherwise they do no harm. Many mosses, lichens are common as a greenish or bluish-white crust on rocks, tree bark, shingles, and fence posts. They are not single plants but an association of green or blue green algae with fungi. The fungi receive food from the algae and aid the algae by  absorbing  and retaining water and also by providing them with physical support. The algae found with lichens can be grown without the fungi, but the fungi cannot be grown without the algae. Some plants, such as the Strangler Fig. start as air plants but eventually develop roots and become attached to the ground.

Strangler Fig

Strangler Fig

         

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