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TT: Re: Tree-top shrubs - an epiphyte?

Yup, that sounds like mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum in the South, other
species in this genus elsewhere), a common southern hemiparasite.  Y'all may
recall that we discussed mistletoes a few weeks ago on this list.  Mistletoe
should not be confused with dwarf mistletoes, which are severe, tree-killing

The distinction between a hemiparasite and an epiphyte is this:  An epiphyte
gets nothing but support from the host plant.  Examples - lichens, Spanish
moss, orchids, shield ferns.  A hemiparasite gets some of its needs from the
host, water and minerals in the case of mistletoe.  A parasite gets all of
its nutrition from the host.

Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneiodes, is an epiphyte.  Surprisingly, it isn't
a moss at all but a flowering plant in the Bromeliaceae, the pineapple
family.  It grows on hardwood trees in the deep south, where high humidity
and rainfall bring adequate water and nutrients to the plants. It is an
integral part of community forestry in cities such as Savannah, where
streets lined with live oak draped in Spanish moss are highly valued.

Tom Kimmerer
Forest Biologist
University of Kentucky
Lexington KY 40546
Ph:    606-257-1824
Fax:    606-323-1031
Visit the TreeWeb at http://quercus.uky.edu