I was doing a hike at one of the NJ parks a week or so back when I happened to see a grass that was growing from between the branched fork of a now leafless tree.
The grass looked quite happy and healthy, and a quick look at its base showed some accumulated debris, and perhaps even soil. I can only surmise that it got to its present location via a wind blown seed being deposited in between the trunks.
This of course made me wonder why there didn't seem to be any obligate epiphytic grasses.
Epiphytes are plants that spend part of their lives growing on other plants. They use their host for support but do not depend on them for nutrition or water (unlike parasites), and the main reason for becoming an epiphyte in forested areas is somewhat obvious. By growing high up (perhaps even all the way to the top of the canopy), the plant will have access to light that it would not have growing in the soil.
|Epiphytes. (c) Hans Hillewaert - Wikipedia|
|Tripogon capillatus (c) GBIF, specimen from University of Michigan|