Saturday, November 10, 2018


Common Bromeliads The ones I am talking about are the epiphytes (air plants) growing in our trees.  

The two most common ones are called mosses, though they are not.  Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) and Ball Moss (Tillandsia recurvata) are the two most common, though there is another which is not rare, but rather uncommon -- Bartram’s Airplant (Tillandsia bartramii).  Many people think that these are dead plants, but if you look closely after a rain, you will see a faint green color within the grey foliage.  These plants are not mosses, since they have blooms – Spanish Moss has tiny (1/4”) flowers which you might miss if you don’t inspect them minutely.  Ball Moss flowers are about 3 times as big, and you will notice their seed pods (out on long stalks) more than the blue flowers.  Bartram’s Airplant has large pink spikes and brownish-grey seed pods which really stand out among the grey needle-like foliage.  

All of these plants use their roots for clinging onto their “home” (usually trees), but obtain their necessary minerals from dust particles and dissolved material within rain.  Unlike Mistletoe (which is a killing parasite), these air plants do not kill the trees upon which they are located.  If a tree is extremely heavily laden, these Bromeliads can inhibit the available light and limit the available sites for forming sprouts so that the tree may  “decline” a bit.  Unless you take the time to inspect these plants (ideally with a magnifying glass), you may miss their many unique features – keep your eyes open !!!

May your horticultural results be as fulfilling as your gardening diligence.      

Martha Dysart.

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