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Name: David
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Is there a type of vine that survives on air alone?

I know of no vines that survive on air alone. but the Tillandsia group seem to come close. They are members of the Bromeliad family (related to Pineapples) They live ON other trees, without taking anything from the host except support - so they are epiphytic not parasitic Tillandsias absorb their moisture and nutrients through structures on their leaves called trichomes. They are commonly called air plants because they seem to live on fresh air alone. In fact they need the moist conditions and a sprinkling of dust and other debris to provide the chemical nutrients they require. The other thing is that with such a limited intake of nutrients, tillandias grow very slowly. I have managed to kill some, because in Tennant Creek where I live the air is too dry for much of the year, and even though I provide a mist of moisture from time to time, they dry out too rapidly. Perhaps the best known member of this group is Spanish Moss, which drapes itself over trees in the Florida Everglades. Other plants, especially many growing in tropical rain forests, can also be epiphytic, taking support from other plants, but in a rain forest we are aware of plenty of moisture and plenty of food in the way of falling leaves etc.

N. Skelton

Epiphytic plants are sometimes called "air plants" but still require water, nutrients, and light.


Anthony R. Brach, PhD
Missouri Botanical Garden

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