The Advantages of Spanish Moss

For a long time, Spanish moss was regarded as a parasite; yet today, we know that's not true. Spanish moss, an air plant that needs no soil in which to live, has been found to have some very positive qualities attached to it. So, there are some advantages to leaving Spanish moss right where it is.

Food and Shelter

Spanish moss--which is actually a flowering plant--has been found to provide food and shelter for a number of different animals and insects. In addition to being a preferred roost for bats, Spanish moss also provides nesting material for birds. Its long strands are frequently seen woven into nests of all kinds. Some animals make their homes right in the moss itself. The parula warbler and the oriole weave the moss into hammocks, in which they lay their eggs. Because of the Spanish moss's height, the eggs are kept safely off the ground and out of the reach of any predator who might be able to climb a tree, but not navigate the stringy moss.

Air Pollution Warning

Since Spanish moss obtains all its nutrients from the air and from the condensation of humidity, it's been thought that the amount of air pollution can be measured--or at least indicated--by the presence of Spanish moss. Healthy Spanish moss has a green tint to it, and dead or dying moss will fall to the ground and wither.

Commercial Value

Before the advent of fibers such as nylon and polyesters, Spanish moss was invaluable as a commercial product. Moss gathering was an important business in the mid-1800s. The moss was pulled from trees, then soaked and left to rot. Once it had rotted it was dried, then used for a variety of different purposes. It was extremely popular as stuffing in furniture, as it allowed air to pass through the fibers. It was also used in construction as a binding agent in plaster and bricks. The dried moss did not attract bugs and vermin like other materials did, and had a unique tendency to remain cool even in the hottest months.

Keywords: spanish moss, air plants, uses for plants