Epiphyte, any plant that grows on and is supported by another object, but does not receive nourishment from it. Epiphytes are not parasites, for they make their own food. They are attached to the surface of another object by aerial roots or by rhizoids (hairlike structures similar to roots). These roots or rhizoids also absorb water and nutrients.
Epiphytes usually grow on other living plants, but some grow on stones, buildings, lumber, or dead trees. They often completely cover the objects supporting them. Epiphytes are found in most regions of the world, especially in moist tropical and subtropical areas. Some epiphytes are called air plants.
Certain orchids, mosses, algae, ferns, and liverworts are epiphytes. The most common epiphyte in the United States is Spanish moss, which grows in the Southern states. Many species of epiphytes are grown in greenhouses.