spanish moss - turrell, hall & associates, inc. moss-js.pdf · spanish moss tillandsia usneoides...
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Spanish Moss Tillandsia usneoides
Description: Spanish moss grows from trees in silvery-gray threadlike masses. Small yellowish-green to blue axial flowers with petals about 1 cm long. It is an epiphytic plant, which grows on another plant, but does not rely on the host plant for nutrients. Epiphytes make their own food. Spanish-moss does not have any roots. It uses its long, thin, scaly stems to wrap around the host tree and hang down from the branches. The grayish green leaves are covered with cup-like, permeable scales that 'catch' moisture and nutrients from the air and from pockets on the surface of the host. This water-trapping ability allows Spanish moss to withstand long dry periods. Habitat: Spanish-moss is limited to Central and South America and the southeastern United States, from Florida to Texas. It grows well in partial shade and prefers moist environments but can survive well in dry habitats too. It most commonly adopts oak or cypress trees as hosts but may be found on other species. Importance to Wildlife: While Spanish moss is not parasitic, it can sometimes damage the host tree by over-shading the leaves, thus reducing photosynthesis, or by weighing down and breaking the branches. Several species of songbirds use the plant material for nest building or weave their nests in the moss clumps. Warblers are especially fond of these sites, as are bats. Many reptiles and amphibians hide inside the thick masses. Redbugs, or chiggers, are also common residents in Spanish-moss on the ground. Fun Facts:
Native Americans called the plant "tree hair". Spanish moss is actually not a true moss at all; it is a bromeliad, which means that is more closely
related to the pineapple than a true moss.