Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Country Roads Adventure: Part 1

Yesterday was as beautiful as the weatherman predicted, with brilliant blue skies and abundant sunshine — a perfect day to go rambling with my camera. I headed for one of my favorite country roads, MS Hwy. 22, which runs north and south between Edwards and Flora, Mississippi, winding its way through pasture lands and woodlands.

One of my favorite places along Hwy. 22 is an area about a mile long which is home to several trees that are covered with Spanish Moss (you can click on the pictures to enlarge them if you would like to get a closer look).

Having been born and raised in northeast Louisiana, and having lived in Mississippi most of my life, I am used to seeing moss-covered trees, but have never taken pictures of them until yesterday.

The moss-draped trees are beautiful from a distance, but up close the graceful, cascading tendrils of moss are truly a fascinating sight.

I did a little research on Spanish Moss (which is also called Florida Moss, Long Moss, or Graybeard), and found that it is not a true moss. It is an epiphyte — a plant that grows on another plant, but does not rely on the host plant for nutrients; epiphytes make their own food. They are sometimes referred to as air plants because most have aerial roots; however, Spanish Moss does not have any roots. It uses its long, thin, scaly stems to wrap around the host tree and hang down from the branches.

You can see some scales in the next two pictures:

These cup-like, permeable scales catch moisture and nutrients from the air and from pockets on the surface of the host. This water-trapping ability allows Spanish Moss to withstand long dry periods. In extreme dry spells, the plant becomes dormant until moisture returns.

I love the way the delicate little tendrils weave their way from one branch to another ...

The lacy tendrils remind me of the exquisite tatting our grandmothers used to do ...

Now that I've told you probably way more than you want to know about moss, I'd like to share the rest of the pictures I captured.

I love this shot against the brilliant blue of the sky. Only God can create that shade of blue!

In places, the tangled masses of moss look like curtains hanging from the limbs of the trees ...

I loved exploring the mossy trees up close through the lens of my camera, and enjoyed learning a little about this amazing plant called Spanish Moss in the process.

I hope you will join me tomorrow to see more scenes I captured during my country roads adventure.


nanny said...

The moss is beautiful...it looks like it is dancing in the wind.
Very interesting post.
The colors are wonderful!
Looking forward to more scenes.

racheld said...

Just beautiful---I've been ever-enchanted with the ethereal stuff, for it would not grow up where I lived.

We used to bring great sacks of it home from trips to the coast or to NO, and even though we had such high humidity, something about that Delta air just wouldn't let it thrive.

Some of your photos are like the shining rich pelt of some great benign beast, one which opens a sleepy eye and moves perhaps once in a thousand years.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

This just says "home" to me.

We have a wonderful 500 year+ oak in our yard that is draped in Spanish moss. I adore it. And when we lived in Central FL many years ago, we had the world's most beautiful magnolia that was perfectly shaped. It was covered in moss, and the guy who was in charge of all the gardening for the city told me nevuh evuh to de-moss it. I told the people who bought our house that, and they actually let some people take the moss off the tree. The people made money from it. They told them it was killing the tree which is was not. So the tree is now demossed, and the city is having a moss blight. Oh, well.

Enjoyed this, Janie.


Sheila :-)

Marjorie (Molly) Smith said...

My Daddy's folks are from the Bayou region of LA, maybe that is why I have always been drawn to cyprus knees and moss..
I love your pictures, they are so Southern and how I love the South.

Tonja said...

The only tree in our yard in our previous house was alwys full of Spanish Moss. It was a sweet gum tree. I'm so glad someone else thinks it is beautiful!

Did you know that the early settlers in our country in places like Savannah and New Orleans found this Spanish Moss and thought it wonderful. They used it to stuff their mattresses and pillows with to make them softer. And, as such, this is where the saying "don't let the bed bugs bite" comes from. The moss is covered...always...with red bugs. And, if you've ever had a red bug bite and I'm sure you have...they are not fun!

Jenni said...

Such lovely snapshots of a Southern fixture... we, too, have Spanish Moss draped trees in Texas.

When I see them, I can almost hear the strains of "Dixie"....

Thanks for sharing your "scouting trip" with us, and for letting us learn more about Spanish Moss.

I am looking forward to more from the roving L. Lens...

Carolyn said...

Beautiful, beautiful pictures. Spanish Moss is one of my favorite things. We have a little of it around my house. Caddo Lake just north of here is breathtaking with its mossy trees. Thanks for these gorgeous pics. Can't wait to see more.

Deb said...

who would have thought moss could be so beautiful...you really captured some great photos..