Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Spanish Moss




Certain things just shout, "Southern", and Spanish Moss is one of those things isn't it?

Just like real maple syrup shouts "Northern". (Southern cane syrup just can't compare)

You can Google Spanish Moss and get all the biological particulars. My personal persepective is ...

  1. It's beautiful.
  2. It does NOT kill healthy trees, but will grow thickly over the bare, dead branches of dying trees, giving the illusion that the moss killed the tree.
  3. It's an epiphyte, not a real moss.
  4. Down here, we grow up learning that it is loaded with red bugs. I don't know that it really is, or why it would be. Chiggers find more food down in the understory.
  5. When it's damp, it makes great smoke on a campfire ... when you are 7 and need to send up smoke signals, all you need is damp Spanish moss and a palm frond to separate your puffs.
  6. Dry, it makes pretty decent tender, and I've used it along with a flint and a steel striker to start a fire ... back in my reenactor days.
  7. When I first moved to my current side of Florida, many of the country kids I taught made extra money "pullin' moss". They pulled it from trees, cleaned it of sticks, bats, and ratsnakes, and then sold it to craft store suppliers. It's been years since I have heard anyone mention pulling moss.
  8. In the seventies, it was dying out throughout the state and this received alot of press. Seems fine now.
  9. Way back before my time, it was used for stuffing chairs etc.
  10. I like the way it signals the seabreeze is about to kick in.

That is all, I moss get to work.

heehee

18 comments:

Rurality said...

In AL, there is a very clear demarcation line for Spanish moss... is there in FL also? I can't remember...

Lynn said...

Another example of why I had to move north to live in the south. We didn't have Spanish moss on our trees down in Miami, but we didn't have many oak trees either. More pine, palm and melaleuca (or paper trees as I call them).

No lack of them around Lake county.

Dani said...

That is such a beautiful picture! Makes me want to grab a book and a blanket and just chill out.

Buford Nature said...

My grandfather was allowed to take a pillow from a German submarine that his ship captured and scuttled during World War II. The deep red velvet pillage was filled with dried Spanish moss! My mom kept it for years, appropriately enough in Florida. What goes around, comes around.

Sayre said...

Spanish moss says home to me. I remember playing in it as a child and the same admonition about redbugs and chiggers. I don't remember ever having them though.

Deb said...

When I was about 6 years old we visited my grandparents in Florida. My mom liked the Spanish moss so much we took some home and hung it in a spruce tree. I don't think it survived the winter though.

Doug Taron said...

The Spanish moss was one of the things that I was much enjoying during my recent sojourn in Florida. Hard to believe it's a pineapple.

Thunder Dave said...

I agree with #1.

Suze said...

I love Spanish Moss. I live in South Florida where there isn't much of it, so every time I visit Central Florida I pick some and bring it home to drape on my trees. Years ago, I had it in my house, draped over my giant bookcase tops - down the sides. I have never had any bug problems with it - in my house or out of it. I do see squirrels in our front yard picking stuff out of it to eat - so maybe there are bugs in it. I usually put it in our car and bring it home. Only once have I ever had the experience of anything coming out of the various things I pick up to bring home (I pick up seeds, interesting sticks, rocks, tree trunk pieces - you name it, moss, etc.)

As my husband and I were driving along he happened to notice from the corner of his eye, a small scorpion crawling on the top of the inside of the car near the rear view mirror. He quickly smashed it with his hand - I never saw it - and that was the end of that. Since we were in the car with it and going over 60mps, saving it's life wasn't an option at that point, although I think if I had seen it first, I'd have asked to pull over and grab it with a towel or something and let it out.

Suze said...

We were NOT going 60mps, but 60mph. sheesh

myamuhnative said...

On the contrary, there is spanish moss to be seen in Miami and on down to Flamingo in the Everglades as well..One of my favorite things to do is to stake out a certain oak tree in Swallowtail kite nesting season and sit and watch them dive bomb the tree for the moss.They use it as a nest lining and purportedly it keeps the parasitic bug population down too.

Sandcastle Momma said...

Few things are more beautiful than an old oak draped in Spanish Moss.

I can say that I know first hand that chiggers do like it. We had a tree full of it when I was young and I made a nest out of it and then spent the day laying in it reading a book. That night my entire body was covered in red bug bites and to this day I love to look at it but won't touch it with a ten foot pole LOL

Suwannee Refugee said...

Big Spanish Moss fan. Every time I see that stuff I see the South in all its glory, not red bugs.

kevin said...

I always wondered about the chigger thing too.

Mockingbird said...

As one who lives and nests in spanish moss, I can tell you it has chiggers. I eat them when I'm in a hurry, but I prefer a nice anole.

lisa said...

Oh,boy, Am I going to get it. I didn't like the way it looked when I was down for a visit. But the rest of my family thought it was pretty cool stuff.

Hurricane Teen said...

So, so true...You know you're in the South when the live oaks have beards.
You were a reenactor once? How did I not know this?? What time period?

Eva said...

Spanish moss up in the trees shouldn't have many chiggers like FC stated. We always taught our kids in Georgia that it was the Spanish Moss that has fallen on the ground that was known to have them since that's a more suitable habitat.

Personally I've picked lots of Spanish Moss off of trees with no problems.