Moss Mystery

I have had many visitors to #Charleston on my walking tours who ask about the “Spanish Moss”, wondering why so many live oaks in the older part of the city do not have any of it hanging from their limbs. The truth is, even arborists are not exactly certain why the draping gray moss has disappeared from some of the live oaks on which they are traditionally found. To explain my theory, first let me point out that “Spanish Moss” is not moss at all, but a flowering angiosperm whose real name is Tillandsia Usneoides. The plant is an epiphyte, meaning that it uses other plants as platforms to absorb its nutrients, mostly out of the air. The crevices of the live oaks do hold moisture that the plant needs, and I believe that it is the concentration of emissions in the older part of the city that has settled into these crevices, causing it to evacuate or die. Farther up the Charleston peninsula in places such as where this picture was taken near Ashley Avenue, there are not as many delivery trucks and leaf blowers polluting the air, and there is a wealth of the plant on live oaks. Still, no one knows for sure. <img.src=”Charleston Trees” alt=”Spanish Moss”

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