Spanish Moss

Tillandsia usneoides

Since getting our new dog “Louie” Jess and I have been taking him for a walk around the street every morning. I find it a bit of a chore to drag myself out of bed early on these winter mornings but once up it’s been really good to spend time together. We’re both getting to know the early morning dog walking crew and it’s a great chance to look at the plants and houses along the way too.

There’s a section of the walk where the paperbark trees on the nature strip have growths of stringy silver hay like clumps of growth hanging from the branches. It’s clearly not part of the tree, but what is it?

I thought it looked like some kind of fungus or lichen, turns out it’s neither. It’s called Spanish Moss, an epiphyte flowering plant native to North, Central and South America.

A clump of Spanish Moss growing on a street tree on the dog walk circuit

Spanish Moss is not a parasite, it uses a host tree for shelter and support but it gathers it’s own water and nutrients.

Spanish Moss growing on a paperbark tree

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