Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One of my favorite epiphytes!

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) 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!


Lisa at Greenbow said...

I am glad to know that Spanish Moss is grown commercially for the flower arranging/craft trades. I had visions of people out ripping the moss off trees all through the south to feed those trades. I too think it is a beautiful elegant shawl for those big ole trees in the south. I love to see it.

walk2write said...

You and I share a love for that funky moss, Julie. I feel kinda spoiled because it's everywhere up here in Tally and over in the Pensacola area. After Ivan blew through in 2004, the moss went missing for a couple of years, and it was kind of sad to see the big trees bare for so long.

You've taught me something this morning. I didn't know all of those interesting facts about Spanish moss. It certainly is a fascinating plant.

NotSoAngryRedHead said...

Spanish Moss is one of those plants that signal hitting a certain southern point in the US. I remember driving to Florida from Tennessee and seeing the Spanish Moss which got me excited because I knew we were close. When I started seeing lots of palm trees, I got even more excited.

soulbrush said...

Popping in to wish you and yours,all a very merry Xmas and healthy happy 2011. So glad that things worked out well for the kids and grands and your job. lotsa big big kisses xxxx

Serena Lewis said...

I've always been intrigued by Spanish it too although we don't see it too much around here.

Interesting facts, some of which I didn't know...particularly that it's used in packing and upholstery.

Rohrerbot said...

I love this adds this magical element to if life were a dream. When the wind blows through this stuff, I think of southern plantations. It's definitely a cool plant.

Unknown said...

I was shocked when I first discovered this Tillandsia. I always thought those trees were covered with some kind of lichen. To find out it was (1) Not lichen and (2) an air plant was for some reason crazy to me. The drooping form is just so different from the other species.

Ellie Great said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2011!

Mandy said...

Very interesting stuff, Julie! It is very cool looking.

SiestaSister said...

We have 2 BIG oak trees in the back that always have lots of Spanish moss. I love the look even when the wind blows rather large pieces off the tree to the roof (screen) of the lanai. Love south Florida ♥♥♥

Unknown said...

Awesome plant.

Julie said...

Hello Seista Sister in southwest Florida! I was sad to find that you don't have a blog...or are you somewhere else where I can find you? Thanks for your is fun to live in south Florida, eh? Glad you have some Spanish is so pretty to have hanging around!!!
Happy Holidays!

Cindy said...

That spanish moss, I've only ever seen it in plastic bags at the arts and crafts store. In fact, I may have a bag of it in my garage from some long ago project. And you just have it hanging on your local trees! You know what that top picture reminds me of? My husband's chest hair! Hahaha!

David said...

Nice choice!
We have Spanish moss here in Houston along the bayous. It's a fun plant to grow.
David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston :0)

m.krishna said...

I'm not sure how true number 1 is. In fact, most of North Florida goes below 22 degrees in the winter and Spanish Moss is more than abundant here. Great article on an under-appreciated plant though!

Candice Suter.....Sweetstuff said...

Great post for the contest girl! This moss is so interesting and you gave some great info. I would like to see it alive. I have only seen it hanging from those trees in movies or pictures. Some day!