What do you think of when you think of Florida? Palm trees? Alligators? Crystal blue waters and sugar sand beaches? For me, nothing says Florida like majestic spreading oak trees with swaying clumps (or festoons) of Spanish moss hanging from their branches.
Most Florida residents overlook this amazing plant as being
commonplace or dare I say even...ugly!...but how much do you know about Spanish moss? For starters, how about its name? Spanish moss is neither Spanish nor a moss. Spanish moss is native to Florida, meaning it has always been here. However the first French explorers to Florida decided to name these long gray plants after the beards of their rivals, the Spaniards.
|Ponce de Leon is looking |
Although Spanish moss does resemble moss, it's closest relative is none other than the pineapple. That's right, both Spanish moss and pineapples are what are known as bromeliads or air plants. These remarkable plants get all the nutrients and water they need right from the humid Florida air! Just think, Spanish moss festoons can grow up to 40 feet in length through nothing more than what is delivered on the afternoon breeze.
This festoon was 25' long!
So the next time you're out walking with friends, tell them "there are pineapples in the trees!" and after they ask you just what in the world you're talking about, tell them about Spectacular Spanish Moss.