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Mysterious and Enchanting Spanish Moss

Updated on June 19, 2017

Great to use in hanging baskets too

When I am planting something new in a hanging basket, I meander out to the trees on which moss is hanging and grab some.

It is carefully placed in the bottom of the basket before soil and the plant are added. It saves me dimes and it offers a nice bed for a new plant.


Driving along the rural roadways that are off the beaten path here in Florida, the mysterious looking Spanish moss is found hanging out, gently moving in whatever breeze comes its way.

It is especially curious when it hangs low and thick over the branches of the large trees that are often found on the two lane country roads. I can always feel a story within those branches and entangled in this plant that rests upon them. They whisper to me tales of long ago left dormant since no one happened by to record and share them.

A moss that is not a moss

Spanish moss is not a moss…I thought it was for a long time until I began raising bromeliads. When I was researching some of the finer points of the bromeliad, I found that this intoxicating plant has an interesting family. Despite its name, Spanish moss is not a moss but a bromeliad—a perennial herb in the pineapple family.

Many bromeliads are a group of plants that grow on other plants but do not depend on them for nourishment.

Small orange tree with a bit of Spanish moss adorning it...

Source

How does it survive?


Which caused me to wonder, then what is the source of that which sustains them?

It had to be from the air if they are not receiving nourishment from the tree.

And, yes, that is correct. The air and debris that happens by provides food and drink for this plant.

It has little scales on it that are able to be permeated thus trapping nutritious elements and moisture for the moss. This plant does like moist homes but because of its structure it can hold onto water and can survive periods of dry weather. Interestingly enough they have a ‘switch’, if you will, that allows them to adopt a dormant state until the weather conditions improve if it is a very long period with no rainfall. That is particularly fascinating to me.

The morning light highlights the moss....

Source

Where does it make its home?


Usually this plant is found on oak and cypress trees but it can grow on other plants. One of my orange trees in the back yard shown in the photo sports this more than ample beard.

Again that leads me to wonder….how do they know the tree is an oak or a cypress? Did the little beard of moss on my orange tree get confused and land there by happenstance?

Is it killing my trees?

You will meet with some controversy on this issue.

Those who have many trees with an abundance of moss will tell you it does kill their trees.

Others, who have studied the moss, report that it does not harm trees. Trees that die from moss being on them are sick or weak trees that would have died anyway is their explanation. Further, trees that are healthy can grown faster than the moss does so they would survive.

Peeking over the fence....dripping off of the branches...

Source

Is it killing my trees?

You will meet with some controversy on this issue.

Those who have many trees with an abundance of moss will tell you it does kill their trees.

Others, who have studied the moss, report that it does not harm trees. Trees that die from moss being on them are sick or weak trees that would have died anyway is their explanation. Further, trees that are healthy can grown faster than the moss does so they would survive.

The weight of moss when there is an abundance can cause branches to break. Removal of the moss is suggested if you see large amounts of it on your trees.

Inviting and chilling as deeper into the forested acres I ventured.

Source

So Much to Learn and Know...

What uses are there for Spanish moss?


Probably I would say the uses of it are only limited by your imagination.

It has reportedly been used for stuffing in mattresses. I can only wonder how comfortable that would be. I suppose it could be arranged in a way that would make it a comfy sleeping pallet.

It has been used to in stuffing cushions for other furniture, in the seats of cars, and for insulation in homes.

The most popular use of it at this time is in flower arrangements and as mulch.

I have used it to line hanging baskets before placing plants in them and it has worked quite nicely.

Are there other uses for it?

Are there other uses for it?

Apparently so. It seems that some birds like to use it to for nesting material. That should not seem too surprising as when it is available it is usually abundantly so. Right at hand, more than enough Span

According to those who have studied Spanish moss in depth, other critters like to use it as well for homes. That includes amphibious creatures, bats, and reptiles. I know first hand that lizards find it a lovely place to nest as I have had them slither across my arms as I have been removing it from the branches of a tree in the yard.

TV and Movie Settings

There is something a bit mysterious and even haunting and, at the same time, romantic about Spanish moss when it is seen dangling from stately trees as a gentle wind is blowing.


Movie and TV producers have used that mystery to their advantage when filming certain movies or tv shows. The feel of the scene is amped up with this plant in the background.

Many times it is the other character in a movie. It just adds that little something that would be lacking without its presence. Watch for it in the next movie you view that is set in the southeastern United States.

Caution


If you have an abundance of this enchanting plant on your trees and you decide to remove some of it, beware.

Little pesky chiggers love to make it their home and they are annoying when they land on you. So be cautious, wear long sleeved shirts, gloves, and even a hat to help avoid these unwanted visitors to your skin. Even at that, you may find one or two have found their way to your skin.

You will find little red bites wherever they have landed and the itching will begin if they find you. So remember:

Watch out for chiggers …they often find the moss a great place to hang out…o, my…I know that was corny…sorreeeee.

Experience the enchantment

For me, this plant is ever enchanting. As I drive along over narrow country roads in out of the way places, I find myself hearing a story as I drive through trees that have stood in those spots for hundred of years. Adorned by this lacy curtain of mystery, whispers of stories not yet told await awakening a desire to hear them and to know.

Source


http://eol.org/pages/355461/details

© 2013 Patricia Scott

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    • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

      Patricia Scott 

      10 months ago from sunny Florida

      Yes it depends on to whom you speak about whether it harms trees.... if it does our trees do not seem to know they are being harmed. I enjoy the drive down the very same highway where I recorded the video for this hub often. And the moss still mesmerizes me. I do have moss on the trees in my yard and I often use it in hanging baskets and all when planting new plants.

      Hugs and blessings and Angels on the way ps

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      10 months ago from Houston, Texas

      To me seeing Spanish moss hanging in trees helps define the south. We never previously saw it when we lived in Wisconsin unless in photos or movies. It is pretty but I have heard the opinion that too much of it can harm trees. I guess that is open for debate. Sending positive thoughts & prayers your way for your lovely family.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 

      3 years ago from Essex, UK

      Nice to see an article about Spanish moss - I have seen it on several past visits to Florida and it is a strange and interesting sight.

      Like you Patricia I have grown bromeliads, and specifically the Tillandsias or 'air plants', similar to Spanish moss. I grow them on pieces of cork bark surrounded with decorative dried moss or twigs. At present I have about 12 species - ideal in that they are small and don't need too much attention (though humidity in the form of misting with water is important). Sadly however, on a couple of occasions I've failed with Spanish moss itself!

      Well presented and laid out photoessay, which should offer explanations to Florida tourists who have wondered what this curious plant is. Alun

    • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

      Patricia Scott 

      4 years ago from sunny Florida

      &kidz Cards You probably will ...that is true.

    • profile image

      Kidz Cards 

      4 years ago

      Well I am sure i will seesome somewhere anyway. Great lens

    • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

      Patricia Scott 

      4 years ago from sunny Florida

      Hi Kidz Cards Thanks for stopping by....the moss is a part of our daily lives. I do use some of it to line hanging baskets with. It does add a sense of charm and mystery to the surroundings I think.

    • profile image

      Kidz Cards 

      4 years ago

      Very interesting. I live in Spain and have never seen such a thing.

    • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

      Patricia Scott 

      4 years ago from sunny Florida

      Hi Suzanne

      the moss is gorgeous...it gives a sense of mystery to the landscape..

      it can be problematic when mowing though so when I do mow, I clear large clumps of it as it has a way of wrapping around the blade.

      My friend as begun to sell it on line...I may have to look into that.

      Thank you again for stopping by

      Angels are on the way ps

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 

      4 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      I have always wondered about Spanish moss and this hub has a lot of handy facts about it. It's interesting how it can switch to suit different conditions, I guess this makes it a much more long lasting plant! I started getting interested in Spanish Moss after I saw the movie "12 Years A Slave" which features plenty of it. A mysterious looking plant! Voted useful.

    • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

      Patricia Scott 

      4 years ago from sunny Florida

      hi drbj...so I do understand. Perhaps you could interview the Grandfather of the All Spanish Moss and dig up much more that I have left untold...I know some humor is lurking in and among those tresses that hang carelessly over the branches.

      Angels are on the way to bring you Christmas cheer. ps

    • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

      Patricia Scott 

      4 years ago from sunny Florida

      hi drbj...so I do understand. Perhaps you could interview the Grandfather of the All Spanish Moss and dig up much more that I have left untold...I know some humor is lurking in and among those tresses that hang carelessly over the branches.

      Angels are on the way to bring you Christmas cheer. ps

    • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

      Patricia Scott 

      4 years ago from sunny Florida

      You are so right, tirelesstraveler...either story could be set in and among the abundance of moss that you see for sure.

      Thank you for stopping by.

      Angels are on the way to you this morning ps

    • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

      Patricia Scott 

      4 years ago from sunny Florida

      You are so right, tirelesstraveler...either story could be set in and among the abundance of moss that you see for sure.

      Thank you for stopping by.

      Angels are on the way to you this morning ps

    • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

      Patricia Scott 

      4 years ago from sunny Florida

      Hi bill

      It is a work in progress as I mentioned to Faith. And when I say that each time I drive through that particular section on my way to somewhere that I hear a story rumbling around, waiting to be told, I do so mean it.

      Perhaps that could be a project for you.

      Have a lovely day. Thank you for stopping by

      A whole bunch of Angels are on the way to bring you and your family Christmas cheer Love and blessings and hugs...ps

    • pstraubie48 profile imageAUTHOR

      Patricia Scott 

      4 years ago from sunny Florida

      Hi Sweet Faith

      O, my Dear, if I can upload my own you can. It is very simple. When you set up your hub, choose 'video.'

      Then when you are on the next page it will cue you to upload your video. Browse to find it and then click and it will upload. The little bar will move across till it is uploaded. It takes a little bit to be approved and you are good!! I am just learning about videoing with my camera....it is by no means my best work but a work in progress Thank you for stopping by.

      Many Angels are bringing you and your family Christmas cheer.

      Love ps

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      4 years ago from south Florida

      I don't know about the 'mysterious' and 'enchanting,' Patricia, but Spanish Moss is beautiful despite the pesky chiggers and 'skitos.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      4 years ago from California

      Seldom see Spanish Moss where I live. It looks enchanting, but totally creepy too. Totally agree it is the perfect setting for a story. Horror or Love take your pick either would be alluring

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is pretty cool to look at....and hey, cool to hear your voice. Nice job PS.....today is my Christmas shopping day, so wish me luck. I'm going to need it. Blessings to you my friend....hugs for you....and the love of friendship winging its way to you.

      bill

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      4 years ago from southern USA

      Beautiful and interesting hub dear PS! We have Spanish Moss here too. It is so enchanting and great setting for a story or movie, as you point out. Thank you for sharing your video. I need to learn how to upload my own.

      Merry Christmas sweet friend. Blessings to you and yours and Angels heading your way ... way am I writing, they are already there!

      Hugs, Faith Reaper

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