One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A plant that grows on another plant, especially one that is not parasitic, such as the numerous ferns, bromeliads, air plants, and orchids growing on tree trunks in tropical rainforests.
- ‘The epiphytes hanging from the tree branches are either bromeliads or orchids.’
- ‘Many tropical orchids are epiphytes, growing on the side of trees, and will not do well if their roots stay wet.’
- ‘Flowering epiphytes - bromeliads, orchids and cacti - are presented most commonly.’
- ‘A cool, bright spot out of direct sun is best for these tropical epiphytes that grow naturally in rain-forest trees.’
- ‘Those plants which live as epiphytes in the rainforest canopy are subject to intense light and drying winds.’
Mid 19th century: from epi- ‘in addition’ + Greek phuton ‘plant’.
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