Spanish Tree Moss
Date: Spring 2010
Does Spanish tree moss kill or create issues with its tree host?
Please refer to the following article for a complete description of Spanish
Please find these paragraphs at this web site to answer your question:
Spanish moss is an epiphyte (a plant that lives upon other plants; from
Greek "epi"=upon "phyte"=plant), which absorbs nutrients (especially
calcium) and water from the air and rainfall. Spanish moss is colloquially
known as "air plant".
It can grow so thickly on tree limbs that it gives a somewhat "gothic"
appearance to the landscape, and while it rarely kills the trees it lowers
their growth rate by reducing the amount of light to a tree's own leaves. It
also increases wind resistance, which can prove fatal to the host tree in a
Spanish moss is an epiphyte, growing on another plant but not dependent on it for food. See:
No, this has been cited as an example of commensalism. See
Anthony R. Brach, PhD
Missouri Botanical Garden
c/o Harvard University Herbaria
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Update: June 2012