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"S" is for Spanish moss

South Carolina From A to Z
SC Public Radio
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"S" is for Spanish moss. Spanish Moss is a gray tree-borne epiphyte native to the coastal plain of the southeastern United States. As an epiphyte, Spanish moss gets water and food from the air and does not harm the host tree. It is not a true moss but a relative of the pineapple family. It produces small, yellow-green, three-petaled flowers in the spring and early summer. In mid- to late summer seedpods burst forth and rely on the wind for distribution. The plants are a tangle of long stems and slender leaves. The individual mosses can extend over twenty feet in length and are host to red bugs and spiders. Draped in live oaks and cypress, Spanish moss is a familiar and evocative symbol of the lowcountry—some find it restful, others sinister.

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar receivedhisA.B.degreefromDavidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.