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See more synonyms for epiphyte on Thesaurus.com
noun Botany.
  1. 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.
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Origin of epiphyte

First recorded in 1840–50; epi- + -phyte
Related formsep·i·phyt·ic [ep-uh-fit-ik] /ˌɛp əˈfɪt ɪk/, ep·i·phyt·i·cal, adjectiveep·i·phyt·i·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for epiphyte

Historical Examples

  • This epiphyte, too, is very different in structure from wheat-rust.

    Science and Practice in Farm Cultivation

    James Buckman

  • One is purely an epiphyte, growing attached to a tree like many of the orchids.

    Tropic Days

    E. J. Banfield

  • Epiphyte, a plant growing on another plant, but not nourished by it, 36.

  • Here occurred the only Epiphyte observed during the expedition.

  • The same difficulty may have existed in the case of the herbaceous Miadesmia, if, as Miss Benson conjectures, it was an epiphyte.

    Darwin and Modern Science

    A.C. Seward and Others

British Dictionary definitions for epiphyte


  1. a plant that grows on another plant but is not parasitic on it
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Derived Formsepiphytic (ˌɛpɪˈfɪtɪk), epiphytal or epiphytical, adjectiveepiphytically, 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

Word Origin and History for epiphyte


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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

epiphyte in Science


  1. 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
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Related formsepiphytic adjective (ĕp′ə-fĭtĭk)
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.