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Tillandsia usneoides (Spanish moss)
Dunatchik, David

Tillandsia usneoides

Tillandsia usneoides (L.) L.

Spanish Moss

Bromeliaceae (Bromeliad Family)

Synonym(s): Dendropogon usneoides, Renealmia usneoides


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), PR (N), VI (N)

Cascading masses of slender stems covered with gray scales, with a solitary inconspicuous flower at the end of short axillary branches.

Spanish Moss is an air plant (epiphyte), not a parasite, because it photosynthesizes its own energy from the sun. The scales help the plant absorb water and nutrients, most of which come from minerals leached from the foliage of the host tree.


From the Image Gallery

14 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 10 feet long.
Leaf: White-Gray

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun


USA: AL , AR , FL , GA , LA , MD , MS , NC , SC , TX , VA
Native Distribution: Primarily coastal, Connecticut south to Florida, west to central and south Texas, then south through Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean to South America as far south as Argentina.
Native Habitat: Hangs from Live Oak and other tree branches and telephone wires.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Shade
CaCO3 Tolerance: None

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Possible medicinal uses of Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides)
April 13, 2006
I recently read an article about the healing properties of Spanish Moss. It mentioned reducing bad cholesterol in the human body. What exactly are the properties in this plant that are good for you, ...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Brackenridge Field Laboratory - Austin, TX
Texas Master Naturalists - Lost Pines Chapter - Bastrop, TX

Herbarium Specimen(s)

NPSOT 0649 Collected Jun 6, 1992 in Medina County by Harry Cliffe
NPSOT 0542 Collected Aug 19, 1987 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe

2 specimen(s) available in the Digital Herbarium

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1988 VOL. 5, NO.5 - Penny Campaign Grows Oklahoma Wildflowers, Wildflower Center Collects Honors, Di...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Tillandsia usneoides in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Tillandsia usneoides in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Tillandsia usneoides


Record Modified: 2023-03-14
Research By: TWC Staff

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