Saprophytes are those plants which grow and live on dead and decaying organic matter of animals and plants. Many bacteria and fungi have this mode of nutrition. Saprophytes are of great economic importance because the convert complex organic substance of dead organisms into minerals. Souring of milk, formation of curd and vinegar are examples of the activity of saprophytic bacteria. Many fungi are saprophytic e.g., Yeast, Mucor, Penicillium,Agaricus. Fungi growing on wet bread, leather goods and wood are example of saprophytes. Splanchnwn and Hipnum mosses are examples of saprophytes. In Pteridophytes Botrychium and some species of Lycopodium are partial or complete saprophytes. Some Angiosperms are also saprophytes.
E.g., Neottia, and Monotropa. Neottia is known as Bird’s nest orchid. It grows on humus rich soil. The plant has underground rhizome which form a cluster of roots. The root hairs are absent. The roots of Neottia are associated with endotrophic mycorrhiza. The fungus absorbs from humus its food and the cortex cells of the root digest even the cell walls of fungus. Thus they absorb their food from fungus. Actually Neottia is a parasite on fungus. The plant produces aerial shoots which is fleshly and light brown. This stem bears a few brown scale leaves and a spike of orange coloured flowers.