(air plant) A plant that has no roots in the soil and lives above the ground surface, supported by another plant or object. It obtains its nutrients from the air, rain water, and from organic debris on its support. Many orchids are epiphytes and numerous species are found growing in the canopies of tropical rain forests. Their aerial roots form a tangled network that catches falling leaves and other organic material, which provide a source of mineral salts for the plant. In addition, the mesh of roots and organic debris acts as a sponge to collect and hold water. Mosses and lichens, growing on the bark of trees, are examples of epiphytes in temperate regions and bromeliads are examples of xerophytic epiphytes. Epiphytes growing on the leaves of another plant are termed epiphyllous while those growing on rock outcrops are called *lithophytes
. Epiphytes are also a group of plants in the Raunkiaer system of classification.