moshira's picture

Spanish moss growing on Mahogany

Observed: 17th July 2008 By: moshiramoshira’s reputation in Plants
Spanishmoss on Mahogany, Everglades-3
Spanishmoss on Mahogany, Everglades-1
Spanishmoss on Mahogany, Everglades-6

Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides)
Bromeliads - Bromeliaceae
This is a true flowering plant (not a moss) that grows on trees. It resembles the lichen "Old Man's Beard" or "Treemoss" (scientific name: Usnea), which is found all over the world including the UK.
Spanish moss is described as a gray beard hanging from the branches of the tree. When it is big it looks more like long frizzy (grayish) hair.
The tree in the photos is a West Indian Mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni, Fam. Meliaceae).

Species interactions

No interactions present.


Jonathan's picture

I have seen this in the

I have seen this in the Everglades where it grows on trees and telegraph wires like a weed and people pay to have it removed from their garden trees. I grow it as a curiosity in my greenouse!

University of Edinburgh and Biodiversity Observatory (OU)

miked's picture

Very nice, I remember this

Very nice, I remember this from a trip several years ago but ran out of film before being able to get a good shot of the lichen. Did you see many birds and aligators too?

moshira's picture


Hi Mike,

We saw a few alligators and crocodiles, but not as many birds and generally not as many animals as we would have liked to. It was the off-season. We mostly took photos of plants and an odd insect and lizard or two.
And boy were there mosquitoes. I have a silly video of me flapping around like mad, despite all the repellent, long sleeves and all.
BTW "Spanish Moss" is a flowering plant that just looks very much like a lichen in Europe ("Treemoss", "Old Man's Beard"). It looks so much like it that I spent a lot of time trying to identify it as fungi/lichen, without any success.
A place looks magical with epiphytes, doesn't it?

moshira hassan

moshira's picture

confirmed identification?

In my reputation it now says that one of my plant identifications has been confirmed by others.

I am guessing it would be this plant, rather than the other two, but I cannot see where (whether) this is shown in my observation or identification.

regards and thanks

moshira hassan

miked's picture

The showing of confirmation

The showing of confirmation or otherwise of identifications is something that is being worked on (the site is beta after all).
My mistake about saying it was a lichen.
I was there in the 'on' season (late winter I seem to recall), the temperature was not too bad and there were loads of birds and no mosquitos but had very little time. Best moments were at dawn on my own down by the water, well alone except for the alligators who took quite a lot of interest in potential lunch.