Saturday, January 8, 2011

Spanish Moss

Do you know what Spanish Moss is? It’s that stuff you see hanging on trees in the south. Look at the cover of a piece of “bodice ripper romance fiction” that has a Tara-like plantation in the background with a tree-lined look at the trees, and you will see wispy gray-green garlands draping the trees. That gray-green garland is Spanish Moss.

So you might ask, what’s the big deal? Generally, Spanish Moss is found in the southern USA where it is hot and humid. Right now, I’m not in the southern USA and it is not hot nor humid. For some strange reason (unknown to me) it is happily growing in southern California. Maybe it does not know it’s geography well. In addition, some folklore says it only grows where the air is clean. We are in southern CA, which is not particularly known for its clean air.

Anyway, there’s a lot of Spanish Moss in this neck of the woods. It’s kind of pretty. It is not a moss, nor is it a lichen. It’s an epiphyte of the bromeliad family, therefore it is related to the pineapple.

Sometimes, Spanish Moss is called “Old Man’s Beard” but these are two separate organisms. OMB is a lichen, and a bit fluffier than SM.

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