Portraits of Wildflowers

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Posts Tagged ‘Spanish moss

Closer looks at Spanish moss

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You’ve seen how Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) festooned the trees at Palmetto State Park on January 29th. Now here are two closer looks. In the top one the Spanish moss was still hanging from a tree, while in the bottom picture some had fallen onto a dry palmetto leaf (Sabal minor).

And here’s an unrelated quotation for today: “The past is a different country. They do things differently there.” — Leslie Poles Hartley, The Go-Between, 1953. (Wikipedia notes that the opening sentence “had first been used by Hartley’s friend Lord David Cecil in his inaugural lecture as Goldsmiths’ Professor in 1949.” And I’ll note that the Wikipedia article put the apostrophe in the wrong place in Goldsmiths’ Professor; I’ve corrected the mistake in citing the previous sentence.)

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 12, 2021 at 4:38 AM

Lush Spanish moss

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The first thing that caught my attention at Palmetto State Park on January 29th wasn’t the palmettos but the lush Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) hanging from many of the trees. Extra points if you know that Spanish moss is an epiphyte and a vascular plant rather than a true moss. Even more points if you can say lush Spanish moss quickly five times without messing up.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 9, 2021 at 3:47 AM

Not Spanish moss

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spanish-moss-in-tree-3991

UPDATE. Based on Bill Dodd’s comment that he thought this is a lichen, Usnea trichodea, rather than the epiphytic vascular plant known as Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides (where usneoides means ‘looking like Usnea‘), I returned to Monument Hill on January 3, 2017, and confirmed that this is indeed a lichen. I observed the bone-like articulations Bill mentioned, so this probably is the “beard” lichen Usnea trichodea. I’ve updated the text below and added a link to the true Spanish moss of Texas.

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An alternate common name for California’s lace lichen, which you saw last time, is Spanish moss. That’s stretching the truth, because a lichen isn’t a moss, and it’s been a couple of centuries since Spain had any claim over California. In Texas, Spanish moss is a differently incorrect common name: Tillandsia usneoides is an epiphyte, a plant that grows on another plant or object for physical support but not sustenance.

On November 30th I visited Monument Hill State Historic Site in La Grange, 75 miles southeast of my home in Austin, and thought I found Spanish moss in some of the trees there. After the original version of this post appeared, Bill Dodd said in a comment that he thought the pictures actually showed a lichen, Usnea trichodea. I now believe he was right. Click the excerpt below if you’d like to zoom in on the intricate texture of this lichen.

spanish-moss-with-two-greenbrier-leaves-3988-detail

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 4, 2016 at 5:07 AM

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