Friday, July 31, 2015

Trees and Spanish Moss Just Go Together in the North County

Spanish Moss on Oak, © B. Radisavljevic
Before I moved to San Luis Obispo County, I thought long strands of Spanish moss could only be found in the South. I was wrong. When I moved to Templeton, it seemed that Spanish moss was decorating most of the trees I saw. It is especially prevalent in old and shady oak forests. But it's certainly not limited to forests.

Spanish Moss on Almond Tree, © B. Radisavljevic
The moss is also often seen in orchards -- especially old orchards. You can see it here in my very old almond tree. Spanish moss can usually be found in the neglected orchards remaining from the days when Paso Robles was a major almond grower. These orchards are usually found on back roads and on hilltops around the city.

Spanish Moss and Mistletoe Together on Oak Trees , © B. Radisavljevic
Although Spanish moss is often found on trees that seem to be dying, the moss itself does not hurt host trees. It does not steal any of its nourishment or water. Where there is a heavy growth of moss, it does sometimes shade the lower branches and prevent light from reaching them, but in a forest, other trees will do the same thing. You will sometimes find mistletoe right beside Spanish moss. The mistletoe is detrimental to a tree's health.

A Rope of Spanish Moss, © B. Radisavljevic
This photo shows one of the longest strands of Spanish moss I've seen on any of my trees. I was trying to interest my neighbor's cat in playing with it, but since I wanted her to, she wouldn't.

I should consider myself lucky to have so much Spanish moss around. If I want to use if for mulch or in planters, I don't have to buy it. If anyone does want to buy it, Amazon has packaged Spanish moss for sale
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