Find a Florida Canopy Road
April 25, 2009
If you are driving about Florida, look for the Canopy Road sign. It is a state designation that shows that the road is covered with a canopy of trees, most probably live oaks.
They are in just about every city, and make a particularly restful moment as you toot around.
The sign does not indicate large amounts of Spanish moss, though it certainly would indicate that such a large amounts of the tangly grey aerophyte would be nearby.
By the way, impress the kids by telling them the Latin name of Spanish moss. It is Tillandsia usneoides.
We pulled a quick bit from Wikipedia on Spanish moss. It grows from Virginia to Argentina.
Spanish moss absorbs nutrients (especially calcium) and water from the air and rainfall. Spanish moss is colloquially known as “air plant”. It does not kill trees but lowers their growth rate by reducing the amount of light to a tree’s own leaves. It also increases wind resistance, which can prove fatal to the host tree in a hurricane.
In the southern U.S., the plant seems to show a preference of growth on southern live oak and bald cypress because of these trees’ high rates of foliar mineral leaching (Ca, Mg, K, and P) providing an abundant supply of nutrients to the plant. It will not colonize, for unknown reasons, on Southern Magnolias or Holly trees.
Spanish moss shelters a number of creatures, including rat snakes and three species of bats. One species of spider, Pelegrina tillandsiae (Salticidae), has been found only on Spanish moss.