The overal scene looks so much like an untouched prairie; greens are flourishing and going on for miles and miles. The sky is never ending. A vulture scans for lunch. This prairie is wild; no telephone lines or roads interupt it’s untamed beauty.
But on closer inspection, or if you remember you’re on “Aligator Alley”, a part of I75, you see evidence that this isn’t even a wetland prairie swam or bog. It’s much wetter and is infact part of the Florida Everglades. Take the closer look into this profound region.
It is a prolific plant in Florida. Visitors are told that Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is an invasive, choking pest, harming trees and other plants that it inhabits. Its dense clusters do seem to cover its hosts. The strange truth is that it is a member of the pineapple family; with tiny flowers that I have yet to see because to see them requires a microscope. I have tried zooming in on the photographs I’ve taken but have yet to find any flower; so perhaps my timing was off, and I did not capture them during their bloom time.
Truth is that Spanish Moss, aka Grandpa’s Beard, is an air plant getting its food and water from the atmosphere. Its host plants provide only a resting place though it has been known to be so dense that the host plant does not enough sunlight and therefore suffers. Folklore is that the plant, “The Meanest Man That Ever Lived”, was from an old man’s hair that grew very, very long and caught on the trees. Things are often not what they seem. But the stories are fun.