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Re: FW: "accidental epiphyte"

>In a message dated Sat, 17 Jun 2000 11:38:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time, Jody
>Haynes <webmaster@plantapalm.com> writes:
><< Mark,
>I have not personally witnessed any such "accidental epiphytic" aroid, but I
>can refer you to a photo of such a cycad:

>I, too, would like to know if there is a term for this phenomenon.  In
>Washington State, I have seen seedling English holly sprouted in the forks
>of bigleaf maples in a certain town I know, and on Cumberland Island,
>Georgia, I know where to find seedling saw palmettos perched high in
>live-oak trees.

I have been intrigued with this thread for the last week, and have watched
the postings carefully.  As no one else has suggested this I would offer
that the term I have heard for years used to describe this phenomenon is
"Facultative epiphyte."    The definition of this term, from my
understanding, is a plant that would typically ("normally") not be seen
growing as an epiphyte, but which can adopt (adapt to) an epiphytic
lifestyle when there is enough moisture and nutrients available such that
the plant can survive and thrive without having its roots in the ground.
This is a relatively common occurence with some ginger relatives, and I
believe that the Commelinaceae member Cochliostema has been described this
way, although Gentry talks about the latter as a bromeliad-like tank
epiphyte (A Field Guide to Woody Plants of Northwest South America), so
maybe it is a facultative terrestrial.  I would guess that if I were to try
and differentiate between a facultative epiphyte and an accidental
epiphyte, the only distinction I would suggest is that the latter might be
much less commonly seen?  I'm not sure.  I do not know where the term
facultative epiphyte originated, though I know that it has been used for
many years now, certainly since the early to mid-eighties, when I was a
regular visitor to Selby Gardens.  So there we are.  Hope this helps.


Jonathan Ertelt
Greenhouse Manager
Vanderbilt University Biology Department
Box 1812, Sta. B
Nashville, TN  37235
(615) 322-4054

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