Отложения гумуса

Термин «эпифит» имеет греческое происхождение и означает «растение, растущее на растении». Действительно, эпифитные виды образуют настоящий ковер на стволах и ветвях деревьев. Эпифиты вырастают из семян, распространяемых ветром или животными; их корни цепко держатся за неровности коры. Однако это не паразиты: их «хозяева», растения-форофиты, обеспечивают им всего лишь благоприятное положение в хорошо освещенном древесном пологе. Питание эпифиты получают из застрявших в коре почвенных частиц и гумуса, а также утилизуют растворенные в дождевой воде минеральные соли. Отложения гумуса возникают в результате разрушения органического материала (например, отмирающих листьев самих эпифитов или других растений), который накапливается среди корней эпифитов.

Вода непосредственно поступает к эпифитам только во время дождя в отличие от других растений, которые имеют постоянный доступ к почвенной влаге. Поэтому у многих эпифитов развились приспособления для улавливания и запасания дождевой воды. Некоторые вилы, например орхидные и эпифитные кактусы, имеют суккулентные стебли и листья с губчатыми тканями, удерживающими воду, а также восковой покров, уменьшающий потери влаги путем испарения. У многих орхидных основания стеблей клубневидные; представители других семейств запасают воду в «цистернах», образованных в местах соединения стебля с расширенными листовыми черешками. У некоторых видов вода запасается в губчатой массе корней. Виды семейства бромелневых могут собирать до нескольких галлонов воды в цистернообразных основаниях листьев, так что получаются своего рода «висячие болота», привлекающие многие виды животных — земляных червей, пауков, мокриц, скорпионов, древесных лягушек и насекомоядных птиц.

В тех условиях, которые существуют в лесу Финка-ла-Сельвы, густота покрова эпифитов может быть весьма значительной. Годовая норма осадков здесь превышает 300 см, влажность воздуха редко опускается ниже 80%, а сухой сезон выражен нерезко. На испещренной бороздами коре лецитиса, на котором находилась наша платформа, эпифиты закрепляются очень легко, а трещины в ней задерживают дождевую воду, делая ее доступной для их корней. На этом благоприятном для эпифитов субстрате мы с М. Грейэмом из Массачусетского университета в Амхерсте определили около 50 видов растений, из корней и стеблей которых образовались своего рода коврики толщиной до 25 см.

 

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