Spanish moss : Tillandsia usneoides


Spanish moss, Photo by David Byres Uses:

Spanish moss makes good mulch and is used in craft making.

It is also used to cover the top of hanging baskets that have plants in them.

In the past it was used to stuff mattresses, furniture and automobile seats.

The fire that destroyed much of downtown Jacksonville in 1901, destroying over 2,000 buildings, was started in a pile of dried Spanish moss at a matrress factory.

Several species of birds used Spanish moss to build nests and some species of bats roost in it.

One species of spider, Pelegrina tillandsiae , lives only in Spanish moss. These spiders are found from North Carolina south to Florida and west to Texas. Yellow lines and dark abdominal markings distinguish this species.



Notes:

As an epiphyte, Spanish moss gets water and nutrients from rain. During long periods of drought it becomes dormant. Seeds are wind dispersed and fragments of the plant may be blown by the wind or carried by birds. Vegetative propagation may be more common than growth from seeds.
If there is a heavy growth of Spanish moss in trees it may cause damage to the tree due to shading the leaves and the masses may become so heavy that it causes the limbs to break.

It is very susceptible to air pollution damage.

In the 1970ís much damage was done to Spanish moss by a parasitic fungus but presently it appears to have recovered.

Chiggers inhabit Spanish moss and may cause discomfort to people gathering it or working with it in the fresh condition.

Flowers. Photo by David Byres