Not a moss at all, so-called Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is a member of the Bromeliaceae family, which also includes pineapples. This rough, gray, lace-like plant is prevalent in the South, where it hangs from the limbs of live oak trees. Sun-tolerant and requiring little water, Spanish moss grows well in fast-draining, loose soil, on tree branches or on slabs of bark. Spanish moss has been used as stuffing for mattresses or pillows, as decoration or in floral displays.
In Louisiana, where Spanish moss hangs from live oaks throughout the state, it has historically been used as a stuffing for mattresses in the southern part of the state, though this use is now limited to mostly rural areas. Spanish moss is also used as a filler in overstuffed furniture. Spanish moss may be used to stuff the voodoo dolls sold throughout New Orleans and as the hair on home-made dolls.
Spanish moss is popular with florists as it can be used as mulch on top of a potted plant to help retain moisture. The plant is simply tucked around the base of the plant, covering the dirt and giving it a clean but natural look. In addition, in some parts of the south, Spanish moss may be mounted to plaques and hung as wall decoration.
Spanish moss may be mixed with mud or clay as a binder and used in the construction of chimneys or plaster. Like crushed oyster shells, which in Florida are mixed with cement to create tabby, Spanish moss strengthens the mixture and also adds some texture.
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