Spanish Moss

Spanish Moss: Neither Spanish nor Moss

I clearly remember the first time we entered Savannah, and turned onto 37th Street, where we would be living for three months. Huge oak trees canopied the street and random rays of sunlight squeezed past the Spanish moss, which hung apathetically off branches like the embodiment of sorrow. Years from now, when I shut my eyes and think “Savannah,” Spanish moss washed in sunlight will be what I see.

Spanish Moss Savannah

Spanish moss doesn’t come from Spain. It’s indigenous to the Southeastern US, with a range between Florida, Maryland and Texas. There are a bunch of stories for why it’s named after the Spanish, but the most likely explanation is that the newly-arrived British thought this odd, mossy plant looked like the graying beards of their Spanish rivals.

And not only is Spanish moss not Spanish, it also isn’t a moss. It’s an airborne plant which takes its nutrients directly from the air. It’s actually a member of the same family as the pineapple, which is just bizarre enough to be true. Spanish moss doesn’t harm the trees it rests on, which are predominately Live Oaks and Bald Cypresses.

Spanish moss close-up

One of the first things we learned in Savannah was not to touch the Spanish moss, because of the red, biting bugs which live on it. Of course, this lesson was learned immediately after we had fashioned a “hilarious” moss coat for our dog, and wigs for ourselves.

I’ve often wondered to what extent the Spanish moss unconsciously influences life in the South. It fits perfectly in Savannah, creating an atmosphere of mystery and beauty, and it’s impossible to imagine the city without it.

More Spanish Moss Photos:

  • Forsyth Park Savannah  Spanish Moss
  • Spanish Moss Hanging
  • Street Lights Spanish Moss
  • Spanish Moss Statue
  • Spanish Moss hanging from tree
  • Spanish Moss Photo
  • Spanish Moss Park Savannah
  • Spanish Moss eerie
  • Spanish Moss Georgia
  • Tree covered in Spanish Moss

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2 responses to “Spanish Moss: Neither Spanish nor Moss”

  1. Allison Mol Avatar

    Chiggars also live in them. The only relief from their bites is clear fingernail polish! 🙂

  2. jjdaddyo Avatar
    jjdaddyo

    It also was used for furniture and mattress stuffing, after it had been sterilized with steam. You can do the same to it now by putting it in the microwave, if you are so inclined. Just don’t try to take any to BA with you.

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