|Mossy Campground at Paynes Prairie|
Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is an interesting, and often misunderstood plant. Some people think that it looks creepy, that it kills trees and that it is full of bugs. None of this is true. It is not a moss, nor is it Spanish, but is actually a type of Bromeliad, related to Pineapple. Spanish Moss is not a parasite and does not harm the trees it lives in, unless the clumps get too big and heavy with rain and pull down a weak branch. Spanish Moss is an epiphyte (an "air plant") with no roots, that hangs in long drooping chains from the tops of trees, taking its moisture and nutrients from the humid air and rain. Early French explorers called the plant "Spanish Beard" to insult their rivals. In turn, the Spanish called it "French Beard". Reminds me of the French and English knights in Monty Python.
|Wet Barred Owl Drying in the Spanish Moss|
|Spanish Moss Flower|
|Spanish Moss Fiber|
I have been told by reliable sources that Spanish Moss does not harbor chiggers. I've never seen "red bugs" in the moss and haven't had any trouble with them, though I have been run into chiggers in grass many times. I know their itch all too well! But there are still people who insist that they've gotten chiggers from Spanish Moss, so I'll let them keep thinking it. Maybe the moss was on the ground. Many other kinds of animals from bats to birds to snakes to spiders make their homes in Spanish Moss. It makes good nesting material, too.
Camouflaged Spider in Spanish Moss
|Carolina Wrens use Spanish Moss to make a soft nest|
|Images of the South|