Spanish moss is a nonpoisonous plant of the southern United States that grows on trees and is what botanists call an epiphytic plant. It depends on another plant for support but does not absorb nutrients from the host.
The stem of Spanish moss, which is not a moss at all but a flowering plant, wraps around a host tree, allowing the plant to hang from the branches.
The leaves of Spanish moss have a unique design that lets them trap water as well as nutrients from the sir, sustaining the plant. The green parts of Spanish moss create sugars via photosynthesis, a process in which light helps create sugar that the plant uses as energy.
Spanish moss grows predominantly in Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, North and South Carolina, and Alabama. Among its most common habitats are swampy areas and along rivers and streams.
Spanish moss can adversely affect a tree when it becomes so thick it weighs enough to break branches or block out the sun, thus preventing that part of the tree from thriving.
One of the more common uses of Spanish moss has been as stuffing for furniture, automobile seats and mattresses. Spanish moss today winds up in many flower arrangements and is useful for such purposes as insulation or as packing material.
- ibis in cypress image by Stacey Lynn Payne from Fotolia.com