Spanish Moss and Resurrection Fern are often found growing on the oaks of New Orleans City Park. Both plants are epiphytic. Epiphytic plants absorb all nutrients from the air and do not harm the tree that supports them.
Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides), with silver gray threadlike stems, hangs in long graceful streams from the trees. It is a member of the Bromelaid family and produces a small yellow flower. It has long been associated with the beauty of the trees of the Deep South. Since the time of the early settlers, it has had numerous commercial uses. At one time it was used to stuff upholstery. Today, it is primarily used by nurseries and flower shops.
Resurrection Fern (Polypodium polypodioides Watt) is found growing on the trucks and branches of the oaks. It gets its name ‘resurrection’ from the way the fern acts during weather patterns at the Park. If you visit the Park during a dry period, it will be brown and shriveled. It will appear to be dead. Following a rain, that same fern will be green and lush. It is Louisiana’s only epiphytic fern. It certainly adds a special grace to the oaks in the Park.
** If you find Spanish Moss or Resurrection Fern in the Park, please don’t remove it from its home. **
To learn more about the trees of City Park, click here.