We analyzed the structure of foliicolous lichen communities in the northernmost lowland forest of the Neotropics, Los Tuxtlas Tropical Biology Station in Veracruz, Mexico, and its dependence on phorophyte and microclimate. Along a 420‐m long transect with 15 equidistant sampling points, within a 10 m radius of each point, we sampled a total 137 phorophytes and 411 leaves. The phorophytes represented 13 species, with diverse leaf traits regarding size, texture, presence of hairs and/or glands, and longevity, including: Astrocaryum mexicanum (Arecaceae), Chamaedorea ernesti‐augustii (Arecaceae), Costus scaber (Costaceae), Guarea glabra (Meliaceae), Heliconia latispatha (Heliconiaceae), Monstera acuminata (Araceae), Myriocarpa longipes (Urticaceae), Piper hispidum (Piperaceae), Poulsenia armata (Moraceae), Pseudolmedia oxyphyllaria (Moraceae), Salacia megistophylla (Celastraceae), Siparuna thecaphora (Siparunaceae) and Syngonium podophyllum (Araceae). NDMS ordination and cluster analysis grouped the phorophytes into hierarchically structured clusters variously correlated with microsite, phorophyte species and foliicolous lichen species richness. Indicator species analysis revealed statistically significant foliicolous lichen species characteristic for terminal clusters and for phorophyte species. We conclude that the principle of “diversity begets diversity” may apply, in that phorophyte diversity influences the diversity of foliicolous lichen communities through the manifestation of subtle phorophyte preferences, best seen in well‐developed communities on leaves with higher longevity. Thus, well‐preserved forest ecosystems, with a higher diversity of suitable phorophytes, will support a higher diversity of foliicolous lichens, a phenomenon that extents to epiphytes in general.