Spanish Moss Safety and 6 Things You Didn't Know About It

Spanish Moss Can Catch Fire Easily - Be Careful.

Spanish moss is considered flammable, to the point that institutions like Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Maryland ban Spanish moss from their grounds. Newman University, in Kansas, bans Spanish moss from its residential housing, including it with items such as hay and straw as “highly flammable decorative materials.”

6 Things You Might Not Have Known About Spanish Moss.

  1. Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) isn't moss at all. It is a bromeliad, which means it is in the same taxonomic family as pineapples and succulent house plants.
  2. Spanish moss is not from Spain either. It's native to Mexico, Central America, South America, the U.S., and the Caribbean. In the U.S., it grows from Texas to Virginia, staying in the moister areas of the South. Its preferred habitat is a healthy tree in tropical swampland.
  3. Although Spanish moss grows on trees, it is not a parasite. It doesn't put down roots in the tree it grows on, nor does it take nutrients from it. The plant thrives on rain and fog, sunlight, and airborne or waterborne dust and debris.
  4. The surface of the Spanish moss plant is covered with tiny gray scales, which trap water until the plant can absorb it. The plant’s tissues can hold more water than the plant needs, to keep it going through dry periods. When the tissues plump up after a rain, Spanish moss appears more green. As the water is used, it returns to a gray hue.
  5. The seeds of the moss have feathery appendages like dandelion seeds. This allows them to float through the air until they land on a good spot to grow: another tree.
  6. Spanish moss is more likely to propagate by fragmented pieces of plant called festoons. When a festoon is broken off and carried off by wind or birds (using it for nest material), it will begin to grow into a full plant if it lands in an acceptable place.