DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Epiphytic plants on the bole of a tree of sessile oak, Quercus petraea, growing above the River Greta in Cumbria, UK. Epiphytes - plants that grow on other plants - reach their greatest diversity in tropical regions; but luxuriant growth of mosses and ferns can be found in sheltered habitats in temperate regions of high rainfall. The fissured bark of oak trees is particularly suited as an anchorage for the delicate root systems of ferns and bryophytes. The fern visible is common polypody, Polypodium vulgare. Both it and its associated mosses require high humidity and protection from direct sunlight, provided here by the position of the tree, the canopy of neighbouring trees, and the locality; one of the wettest regions of England.
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