Steve, over at The Rainforest Garden has called his readers to do a post regarding our favorite epiphyte. There are so many to choose from (all of which I love)...so I had to just pick one, and I believe I have picked one of the funkiest ones around...
Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides), is a flowering plant that grows upon larger trees, commonly the Southern Live Oak or Bald Cypress in the southeastern United States. I find it to be quite alluring and mystical! It's just plain strange, let's face it!
It is an angiosperm of the Bromeliad (Pineapple Family), and can live in full sun or partial shade. It is so southern, so graceful and full of charm, that you can only envision the beautiful oaks in Georgia filled to the brim with this stuff, so elegantly draped over their branches. I for one, could stand beneath it, take deep breaths, and just feel happy to be alive! I have done this many times on vacations through the south. I took both the close up (above), and the picture below, of Spanish Moss in an oak tree at a church nearby.
As it turns out, in looking through my photos, I found a pic of this Bald Cypress, taken at a state park here, also draped with some of the moss. I found this to be amazing, just because we have very little Spanish Moss growing in south Florida...we start to see it more, on our way up the state, at about the central area of Florida and on up. This is one of the reasons I start to feel sad when coming back home, and leaving the areas were it can be found in abundance.
10 interesting facts about Spanish Moss provided by Garden Guides.
1. It cannot survive exposure to temperatures below 22°F.
2. It can be propagated by cuttings, and seeds.
3. There is evidence that Spanish moss was used over 3,000 years ago to make fire-tempered pottery.
4. Native American tribes (the Houma and the Koasati) use Spanish moss in the construction and decoration of small dolls.
5. Yellow-throated warblers and northern parulas build their nests inside clumps of living Spanish moss.
6. There is at least one species of spider that only occurs in Spanish moss.
7. The plant is used as fodder for livestock.
8. As we know, Spanish moss is used in flower arrangements and as decorations for handicrafts.
9. Spanish moss is grown commercially for use as packing material and as a replacement for horsehair in upholstery and mattress stuffing.
10.Several species of bats including the Seminole bat roost in clumps of Spanish moss.
This is some really awesomely funky stuff! Let's hear it for Spanish Moss!