Range: Southeastern USA to South America
This unusual looking plant is well known throughout the southeastern United States and tropical America. Despite its name it is not a moss, but a flowering plant in the pineapple family. It is an epiphyte (air plant), not a parasite, drawing everything it needs from sunlight, air, and rainwater. Spanish moss forms masses of strands that hang from the branches of trees like a long, gray beard. Look closely, and you’ll see tiny green flowers and brown seed capsules that burst open to release light, hairy seeds that float on the wind. Look even closer, and you’ll see tiny scales that give the leaves their gray color. The scales help the plant absorb and retain moisture. Spanish moss is less common in southern Florida than in other parts of the state.