|Tidal Marsh, Daniel Island, SC © Doug Hickok|
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Heavy Live Oak branches draped with Spanish moss hang over this tidal marsh on a fogging winter morning. Spanish moss is not actually a moss or lichen, but an "air plant", an epiphyte, that gathers nutrients and moisture from the humid air of southeastern US climates. It has a fondness for Live Oaks and Bald Cypresses, because these trees have foliage that provide abundant mineral nutrients. Creatures such as birds, bats, snakes and spiders make their homes in the pendant air plant, because it's a "cool" place to "hang out".
Spanish moss is also closely associated with the imagery of Southern Gothic folk tales and literature.