Spanish Moss or Air Plant
This is an epiphytic perennial. It has branching, rootless, wiry stems. Gray, fuzzy, hairlike leaves about 1/8 inch thick.
It will flower all year from blue to violet.
Grows in zones 9 - 11 in trees, gutters, fences, and poles.
Although the common rumor has it as a parasite, this is not true. They attach themselves to trees for support but take no nourishment from their hosts. The most damage they can do is to cause the branch to be weak from the accumulated weight during a heavy rainfall or storm. They get nutrients from leaves, dead bark, even dust particles.
Beware although it is a dreamy part of the south, chiggers are plentiful in the mosses.
Often this material, after being cleaned and sterilized, is used in hanging baskets and for topping off potted plants. It mulches well and is used in planting to retain moisture.
Our Native American Indians in the south wove dresses out of the plant material.
To enjoy the south is to view its hanging Spanish Moss.
Emily: How do I get bugs out of my Spanish Moss?
Q: I was wondering if you could tell me how to rid Spanish Moss of any bugs or chiggers? I'm nurturing a baby squirrel and would like to use it in its nest.
A: Spanish moss indeed does have some bugs and chiggers to be wary of.
I would lightly wash and rinse the Spanish moss with soap and water. Then, sunshine dry. This is a nice solar action that will sterilize the Spanish moss to some degree.
I do not suggest you use the washer or dryer and stay away form the microwave.
This is something you just do not want to bring into the house.
What a nice thought to use if for squirrel nesting. Squirrels probably carry some insects, fleas or mites themselves so do not be surprised to find them.