Spanish Moss in full bloom

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Tessa Fraser

Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is a flowering plant that grows upon larger trees, commonly the Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) or Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) in the southeastern United States. It closely resembles its namesake (Usnea, or beard lichen), but in fact it is not biologically related to either mosses or lichens. Instead, it is an angiosperm in the family Bromeliaceae (the bromeliads) that grows hanging from tree branches in full sun or partial shade. Spanish Moss grows from the southeastern United States (southern Virginia and eastern Maryland) to Argentina, growing wherever the climate is warm enough and has a relatively high average humidity. The plant has no aerial roots  and its flowers are tiny and inconspicuous. It propagates both by seed and vegetatively by fragments that blow on the wind and stick to tree limbs, or are carried by birds as nesting material.

Spanish Moss has been used for various purposes, including building insulation, mulch, packing material, mattress stuffing, and fiber. In 1939 over 10,000 tons of processed Spanish Moss was produced. It is still collected today in smaller quantities for use in arts and crafts, or for beddings for flower gardens. It is also known to have been worn by the women of the Timucua Indian tribe.

11 Responses to Spanish Moss in full bloom

  1. Niall November 15, 2010 at 12:16 pm #

    wow – cool plant! is this similar to the plant ‘old man’s beard’ you get in south africa?

  2. tessa November 15, 2010 at 1:35 pm #

    it is indeed 🙂

  3. mol-d November 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    cool! more air plants to add to the collection:

    http://www.sprig.co.za/2010/10/air-plant/

    http://www.sprig.co.za/2010/10/air-plants/

  4. Niall November 15, 2010 at 5:47 pm #

    great tessa, I’ve never seen it flower – perhaps I need to inspect my plant a little closer … or else feed it something?

  5. Hannes September 1, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    Where can I get hold of some of this moss

    Please reply asap.

    Many Thanks
    Hannes

  6. Lindi Gross September 6, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    I have old man’s beard but sadly doesn’t “bloom” -didn’t know there was such a plant…

    Lindi
    Valley View Avenue Morningside

  7. Hannes September 6, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    Hi Lindi

    Where did you get the spannish moss? Please, we urgently need some.

    I would appreciate it if you can reply asap.

    Thanking you in advance.
    Hannes

  8. hester September 8, 2011 at 1:06 am #

    How much of the Spanish moss do you want? Alternatively come to the Orchid Show end Sept in Jhb

  9. Hannes September 8, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    Hi Hester

    I need about 3kgs, but any bit would help.
    End September is too late.

    Please can you help with some?

    Many Thanks
    Hannes

  10. hester September 9, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    I will be seeing some orchid growers tommorow afternoon in Edenvale. please forward your contact details via email to hester39@yahoo.com

  11. hester September 10, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    I got the number for you of a person selling the moss by the kilo and have in stock

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