Spanish moss
Tillandsia usneoides (L.) L.
  • LEAVES: alternate, two-ranked, filiform, gray
  • FLOWER: inconspicuous, green, less than 0.5” broad small, solitary, axillary, sessile; flowering in May
  • FRUIT: capsule to ca. 1” long
  • FORM: epiphytic herb, plants long-pendent, rootless, gray-silver, covered in tiny water-absorbing scales
  • HABITAT: epiphytic on trees and shrubs, sometimes on telephone lines and fences
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative (FAC): Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: southeast US, Mexico, Central and South America [US County Range Map] [Global Range Map]
  • USES: many uses historically including weaving and rope making, kindling, animal fodder, binding material for bricks and calk; a Spanish moss industry operated into the early-mid 20th century – Spanish moss was collected and “retted” which involved curing to remove the outer stem (cortex) revealing inner fibers which were similar to horse hair – the final product was used to upholster car seats (including the model T Ford), stuff pillows, for packing material; indicator of air pollution
  • WILDLIFE: nesting material for birds (e.g. northern parula warbler), habitat for various invertebrates, reptiles and amphibians, and some bats
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. silvery-gray epiphyte forming long pendant masses