What is Spanish Moss?

It is a dangerous thing in our home to do two things: say you are bored, or ask a question. If a child lets me know that they are bored, then they are quickly assigned to a task such as scrubbing floors, cabinets, or digging the gross stuff out from under furniture.

Spanish Moss, St. Simon’s Island, GA

The second situation happened to our kids this past weekend. As we were driving through the Charleston area of South Carolina, our children spotted the massive amounts of Spanish Moss hanging from the trees. My older children asked just what that stuff was. Hubby quickly told them that their task this week was to research what Spanish Moss was and he made them give their report “presentation style” in front of the whole clan.

Below is Danny’s spanish moss report. I hope you enjoy and learn about this fascinating flora. 

Spanish Moss

by Daniel

Spanish moss is actually a flowering plant that grows from spores, it grows very slowly, and it is called Spanish Moss because of its class name, Tillandia usneoides, which is Spanish for “look like moss”. It is also in the same class as pineapples.

Spanish moss grows on large trees in humid, moist climates. It grows in silvery-gray masses, yet it has no roots with which to hold on to the tree it’s on. These gray hanging mosses prefer Southern Live Oak and Bald Cyprus. It likes partial shade, but can stand full light.

These strands can be 25 feet long! If necessary it can absorb moisture from the atmosphere, but its nutrients come from rainfall and dust. No one exactly knows how it grows or how it stays on a branch. Spanish Moss can stand a summer temperature of 80*F and a winter temperature of 22*F. It has to have at least 300 frost-free days a year.

Spanish moss is used for fire starters because it burns slowly due to the moisture inside of them, but once lit, they burn for a while. It acts as a home for insects such as ticks, butterflies, mothers, and other things. Spanish moss is not del moss. Real moss doesn’t have flowers. Spanish Moss has yellow-green to blue flowers and real moss grows on old rotten things. Thus it is a very interesting specimen indeed.

3 thoughts on “What is Spanish Moss?”

  1. Very Interesting! Thank you for sharing and thank you for teaching your children. They will always treasure those teaching days.

  2. Kay–I respond to complaints of boredom in the same fashion! It is the mother’s revenge for having given up the sweet bliss of boredome when we entered parenthood.
    Daniel–Really great report! It was well-written and I learned a lot!

    1. That’s cause you’re an awesome mommy!! I will pass that along to Danny. I forgot to publish it, but he also included a bibliography with his report because his teacher insisted 😉

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