MadSci Network: Botany

Re: Why doesn't spanish moss grow in pine trees

Date: Sat Dec 31 10:00:34 2005
Posted By: David Hershey, Faculty, Botany, NA
Area of science: Botany
ID: 1135881293.Bt

The first reference found that pines do not leach as many mineral nutrients from
their leaves as do oaks and bald cypress. Therefore, Spanish moss does better in
oaks and bald cypress because of the greater abundance of mineral nutrients. 

As an epiphyte, Spanish moss is said to do no harm to the host tree. However,
epiphytes are "nutritional pirates" (Benzing 1980) that "steal" mineral
nutrients that the host tree would otherwise get.

The first study also noted that bark shedding and allelopathy might also
influence host range of epiphytes.


Schlesinger, W.H. and P.L. Marks. 1977. Mineral Cycling and the Niche of Spanish
Moss, Tillandsia usneoides L. American Journal of Botany 64: 1254-1262.

Spanish Moss: Its Nature, History and Uses

Benzing, D.H. (1980). Biology of the Bromeliads. Eureka, California: Mad River

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