Hemiepiphytes are plants that either begin as true epiphytes and later establish root connections with the ground (primary hemiepiphytes) or start as climbing plants and secondarily become epiphytic through the loss of terrestrial connections (secondary hemiepiphytes). The taxonomic distribution of hemiepiphytes is quite broad, suggesting that this life history has evolved several times. Distinctive characteristics of the growth form of hemiepiphytes, including strangler trees and banyans, are discussed and features of their anatomy and physiology are considered. Particular attention is paid to the transition from the epiphytic to the terrestrial phase. Although the hemiepiphytic life history is considered as primarily a means of avoiding the dim light of forest interiors, it also may allow escape from fire, flooding, and the depredations of terrestrial herbivores.