epiphyte (plural epiphytes)

  1. (botany) A plant that grows on another, using it for physical support but obtaining no nutrients from it and neither causing damage nor offering benefit; an air plant.
    • 1848, John Lindley, A notice of some species of Rhododendron inhabiting Borneo, Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society, Volume 3, page 88 ↗,
      It has been suggested to me that these fine plants will not prove cultivable, because they are epiphytes. […] The probability however is, that they do not require to be treated as epiphytes, and that, like orchids, they will grow better if committed judiciously to the earth.
    • 1893, Natural Science: A Monthly Review of Scientific Progress, Volume 3, page 185 ↗,
      The nature of the surface of a plant also determines the number and sort of Epiphytes which lodge on it.
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