Trees are 'my universe' but I'm not alone. Many organisms spend their whole lives in and around trees, which is why so many tree species bring substantial biodiversity to where they are planted. However, this benefit can be multiplied by the presence of epiphytes (plants) and lichen that grow on the surface of the tree bark. Plants stacked up on other plants, if you like, all attracting a range of microbes and invertebrates, which then attract bird interest and other wildlife.
I am often asked if mosses or lichen growing on trees are a problem, to which the genuine answer is 'No.’ We have a limited view on what a tree should look like, so any variation is considered a problem.
These 'cling-ons' are not the aggressive Klingons of Star Trek fame, they are vital additions to biodiversity, using the bark of the tree only as a surface to cling to and adding benefits besides biodiversity; like purifying the air you are currently breathing.
The word 'epiphyte' comes from the Greek, meaning 'an additional plant' or 'one plant on top of another.’ The growth of epiphytes on many trees is a sign of good air conditions and a better natural environment.
I would love to say that this was 'the norm' for trees in my area, but as you get nearer to towns, cities and highways, the range of epiphytes and lichen growing on trees drops radically in quantity and species diversity. This kind of Nature thrives only in very natural and unpolluted places and rarely in urbanized areas. The damage we cause is there to see, in the bare lifeless bark of trees that would otherwise be a whole universe of LIFE.