PlantsAir Plants→Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides)

Common names:
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General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 7a -17.8 °C (0 °F) to -15 °C (5 °F)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 11
Plant Height: 10 - 20 feet
Plant Spread: 18 - 24 inches
Leaves: Evergreen
Other: Green with tiny whitish scales (trichomes)
Fruit: Other: 1/2 to 3/4 inch capsule containing 2 - 20 seeds.
Flowers: Inconspicuous
Flower Color: Green
Other: greenish-yellow
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Spring
Late summer or early fall
Uses: Dried Flower
Will Naturalize
Resistances: Humidity tolerant
Drought tolerant
Propagation: Seeds: Other info: the seeds will self sow
Propagation: Other methods: Division
Containers: Not suitable for containers
Miscellaneous: Epiphytic


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Posted by plantladylin (Sebastian, Florida - Zone 10a) on Sep 8, 2011 4:21 PM

"Spanish Moss" is a common sight in the deep south. It is an epiphyte that uses the Southern Live Oak, Bald Cypress, and other trees as its host. The plant has thin stems with alternate, curved, curling, heavily scaled leaves. It grows in a chainlike manner, seeming to "drip" from the trees. Being epiphytic, it does not take nutrients from its host tree but rather absorbs nutrients from air and rainfall. Tillandsia usneoides rarely kills the tree it is attached to, but it blocks light to the tree's leaves, reducing the growth rate of its host.

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Posted by flaflwrgrl (North Fl. - Zone 8b) on Dec 4, 2011 8:24 PM

Spanish moss is gray when dry and light green when wet and it has no roots. The flowers are inconspicuous, pale green or blue, and fragrant at night. Spanish moss is not a moss at all, but is closely related to the pineapple and other bromeliads.
Spanish moss hangs from tree limbs, especially live oak and cypress, and even from power lines and fences. It grows throughout the southeastern U.S. Coastal Plain from Virginia to Texas. Spanish moss also can be found growing in the West Indies and Central and South America as far south as Argentina.
Spanish moss gets all the water it needs from the rain and gets nourishment from the dust in the air. It is not a parasite plant. During dry periods, it becomes dormant, and it resurrects when rain returns.
It produces tiny seeds that sail on the wind and catch on tree branches. Birds and the wind carry pieces of the plant to new locations, which may be the most common means of propagation.
Spanish moss can become so thick that it shades the leaves of the trees it grows upon, and it can become so heavy when wet from rain that it breaks branches. Occasionally, trees may become weakened, but they generally are not killed by Spanish moss.
Spanish moss makes a great mulch and is often used in decorative floral arrangements and handicrafts.
Spanish moss does harbor red bugs or chiggers, and for that reason it should not be used for bedding, for stuffing upholstery, or for packing material without first treating it to kill them. Microwaving is one method used, as well as boiling in water.

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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
so sweeeeeet! by Mutisia Dec 28, 2019 12:19 PM 3
mystery plant by pintypint Mar 14, 2020 8:58 AM 20
Congratulations Sherri by ardesia Dec 15, 2019 8:02 AM 13
moss and plants growing on trunk of pygmy palm by tropicalsnowbird Nov 6, 2019 10:43 AM 1
November Bromeliads by ScotTi Dec 17, 2019 10:24 AM 139
Tillandsias by emddvm Jan 14, 2022 1:25 PM 891
Shower plant by Nbeilfuss Jan 8, 2019 6:24 AM 3
How To Save This Tree? by genevakeith Mar 19, 2018 1:29 AM 7
spanish moss by jodypeabod Jan 20, 2018 6:14 PM 9
Another NGA special event (Acorn Bounty!)- Winter Interest by Trish Jan 2, 2018 10:09 AM 89
Help please: Can my Tillandsia ball moss / Spanish moss be saved? by beachcomber Jul 14, 2017 7:31 AM 2

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