Ball Moss

Tillandsia recurvataBall moss (Tillandsia recurvata) isn’t actually a moss; it’s a flowering plant. This particular example was found on the ground after it had flowered. This plant is in the same genus as the famous dripping Spanish Moss (and both are in the same family as the pineapple). These not-mosses are epiphytes, aerial plants that attach to, but do not parasitize, trees — particularly liveoaks (Quercus virginiana and Q. fusiformis) — and even some fences and power lines.Tillandsia recurvataI was really intrigued by these. Those photographed in hand were found on the ground (I try to be as non-interventionist as possible), presumably snapped off in the wind. The plant likes dead wood best of all. I wonder how long they survive after hitting the ground?Tillandsia recurvataHere’s one above.

3 Responses to “Ball Moss”


  1. 1 Laura Campbell February 25, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Mr. Wills,

    My name is Laura, and I work for the Bee-Picayune newspaper in Beeville, Texas. We are running a local column this week with ball moss as one of the subjects. I found your photos in an online search and wondered if you would mind if we run a photo that you took of some ball moss. The photo I am referring to and would like to use is found on this page: https://matthewwills.com/2014/05/26/ball-moss/ and is the bottom photo of three on the page. Please le mknow as soon as possible as we will go to press this evening. We will be happy to give photo credit as well.

    I tried to send an email, but received an automated reply. I hoped this was would be faster.

    Thank you.

  2. 2 Jeff December 3, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    Hi, Matthew! My name is Jeff. I am a transplanted-to-California-former-UT-Austin Tillandsia fan. I’d love to have 5 or 6 ball moss clumps for old time’s sake. Is there any way I could beg some off you?

    • 3 mthew December 3, 2018 at 6:23 pm

      Hey, Jeff:

      I never took any samples. Ones pictured had fallen out of trees, presumably in high wind. That was a brief visit to TX some years ago


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