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[ep-uh-fahyt] /ˈɛp əˌfaɪt/
noun, Botany
a plant that grows above the ground, supported nonparasitically by another plant or object, and deriving its nutrients and water from rain, the air, dust, etc.; air plant; aerophyte.
1840-50; epi- + -phyte
Related forms
[ep-uh-fit-ik] /ˌɛp əˈfɪt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
epiphytical, adjective
epiphytically, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for epiphytes
  • The damp terrain and omnipresent mist provided the perfect environment for the moisture-loving epiphytes.
  • Many orchids are epiphytes-plants that grow by obtaining nutrients and moisture from the air-and are often found living in trees.
  • The trees and the bush were epiphytes, aerial plants that grow on other plants without harming them, usually on trees.
  • Almost all orchid species in the warm rain forests lived as epiphytes, growing from other plants, often high up in the canopy.
  • Among flowering plants, the best-known epiphytes are orchids and bromeliads.
  • Wet tropical forests have abundant rainfall throughout the year, and include epiphytes growing amongst the towering canopies.
  • epiphytes depend on other plants to get closer to sunlight, which epiphytes then use to create energy.
  • One also finds strangler fig and abundant epiphytes.
British Dictionary definitions for epiphytes


a plant that grows on another plant but is not parasitic on it
Derived Forms
epiphytic (ˌɛpɪˈfɪtɪk), epiphytal, epiphytical, adjective
epiphytically, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for epiphytes



1816 (implied in epiphytous), from epi- "upon" + -phyte "plant."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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epiphytes in Science
A plant that grows on another plant and depends on it for support but not food. Epiphytes get moisture and nutrients from the air or from small pools of water that collect on the host plant. Spanish moss and many orchids are epiphytes. Also called aerophyte, air plant.

epiphytic adjective (ěp'ə-fĭt'ĭk)
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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