Hanging off trees and landscape plants, Spanish moss is a familiar part of Florida’s environment. Despite its name, Spanish moss is not a moss yet a bromeliad—a perennial herb in the pineapple family.

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Most bromeliads, consisting of Spanish moss, are epiphytes. Epiphytes thrive on various other plants, but do not rely on them for nutrients. Lock take nutrient from the air and also debris the collects top top the plant. Spanish moss has permeable scales that “catch” moisture and nutrients.

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Spanish moss prefers moist environments, however its capacity to trap water allows it make it through dry periods. The plant can additionally go dormant until moisture conditions improveSpanish moss does no have any roots. It attaches to substrates by wrapping its stems around a surface. Also, the does not require roots because that water and nutrient uptake, since all parts of Spanish moss have actually that ability.Spanish moss is frequently found on oak and also cypress trees, yet can prosper on other plants as well.

Spanish Moss and Tree Damage

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Many homeowners think the Spanish moss kills your trees. This is not the case since the moss is no parasitic. The only thing Spanish moss supplies trees for is support.

If you observe tree decline after hefty infestations that Spanish moss, the trees space usually declining because of a various factor. In fact, tree decline can reason Spanish moss expansion as the canopy thins and lets in much more sunlight because that the moss come grow.

Heavy moss top top a tree deserve to shade leaves and also slow growth, but healthy trees will certainly grow much faster than the moss. Be mindful that the moss can additionally weigh down and also sometimes rest branches.

If you want to remove Spanish moss, have actually an arborist remove it through hand. However, it will certainly grow back after a while.

Uses for Spanish Moss

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Spanish moss provided to be harvested because that stuffing product in vehicle seats, furniture, mattresses, and even insulation in homes. Today it is occasionally used for stuffing or packing material, but it is much more widely offered for floral arrangements and also mulch.

Songbirds construct nests v the moss, and also many other types use moss clumps because that shelter, including bats, reptiles, and also amphibians.

Be aware that chiggers are typical in Spanish moss and also may reason a rash on the skin if the moss is handled.

Adapted and also excerpted from:

B. Larson, et al,Florida’s aboriginal Bromeliads (CIR 1466), room of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation (rev. 09/2009).

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“Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides)," Florida 4-H woodland Ecology (accessed 04/2011).