Often thought to be a parasite, it is really just a harmless plant living the good life in Florida.
It hangs gracefully from many trees. Despite its name, this plant is not a moss at all; it is a member of the bromeliad family and is related to the pineapple plant.
Even though the plant sometimes seems to overtake the tree that it inhabits, Spanish moss does no damage at all to the host tree. The plant can grow to 20 feet long as it drapes over tree limbs. It feeds off of the nutrients in the air. It has no roots; it attaches itself to a tree by wrapping its stems around a branch.
As you may notice in the photo on the right, the plant has a scaly surface to capture water and nutrients.
Spanish moss can grow on just about any tree in Florida, but seems to prefer oak and cypress trees. In our area, it loves pine trees.
In days gone by, Spanish moss was collected to stuff mattresses, car seats and furniture. Today the plant is collected for use in arts and crafts and flower arrangements. Some birds use the plant in the making of nests.
FOG sez: Spanish Moss and I have a lot in common, I’m harmless and like to be left alone, draped over a lawn chair.