Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spanish Moss

I love Spanish Moss and feel lucky to live in an area where it grows.  It is only found in the southeastern parts of the United States ( and in Central and South America) from Florida to Texas and of course here in Georgia.  Though it's not found in all parts of Georgia, just the coastal area.
When French explorers first saw it and asked the Native Americans what it was they were told it was "tree hair", the French told them it looked more like a Spaniard's beard " Barbe Espagnol".  Spaniards took this as an insult and said it looked more like French hair,"Cabello Frances".  But the name Spanish moss seemed to stick.
It is often found on Cypress, Gum Trees, Oaks, Elms and Pecan.  It grows on all of our trees including Pine.  Our trees out back are covered in it.  They just look so darn southern.
Spanish Moss is not a true moss, but rather an epiphytic plant which means it's a plant that grows on another plant.  It's not parasitic, it doesn't get it's food from the host plant, but can damage the tree if it covers too many of the leaves and interferes with the photosynthetic process.  Spanish Moss is a member of the Bromeliad family and one of its family members is the pineapple, how strange to think of them being related!
They don't produce seeds but rather propagate by fragments or festoons that birds carry from plant to plant.
Birds use it for nesting material, lizards love it to live in as do chiggers and redbugs.
We once saw a man at a Halloween party covered in Spanish Moss, needless to stay he did keep it on long.

3 comments:

  1. The Native American description is perfect - it looks just like tree hair! I've heard of Spanish Moss and think I may have seen it in Virginia - is that likely?

























    i

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  2. Hi! I think I may have seen it during a swamp excursion in New Orleans?

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  3. Rowan, you may have seen it in Virginia, I'm guessing it would have been near the coast.

    liZZie, you definitely would have seen it in New Orleans.

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