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Epiphyte Plant, Banyan

Epiphyte (pargachha) any plant that grows on another plant or object above the surface of the ground, having no roots in the soil. An epiphyte grows nonparasitically upon another plant, deriving its nutrients and water from the rain, the air, dust, etc. Sometimes when a plant grows on some nonliving structures, such as brick walls or some constructions are also considered as epiphytes. Representatives of almost all groups of plants, like algae, lichens, bryophytes, pteridophytes and angiosperms achieved the epiphytic habit. Of these, bryophytes, pteridophytes and angioperms take a major share of epiphytes. Tree trunks and old branches of trees are mostly used as support for the epiphytes. In Bangladesh the typical epiphytic ferns are Microsorium, Pyrrosia, Dryneria, Drymoglossum, Huperzia and Palhaniana.

The typical epiphytic angioperms are the orchids; the common are Dendrobium, Aerides, Rhyncostylis, Vanda and Cymbidium. At least 50 such species have been recorded from Bangladesh. Some asclepiads are also found as typical epiphytes. The common hemi-epiphytes of Bangladesh are Banyan (Ficus benghalensis) and Peepul tree (F. religiosa). [Mostafa Kamal Pasha]

See also angiosperm; bryophyte; pteridophyte.