Friday, August 14, 2009

Low country landscape and the story of Spanish Moss

This is the third and final installment of vacation-related photos and stories. These photos below show some of the low country of South Carolina. We love the marshes, grasses, and waterways of this area. I am surprised to be unable to see an egret in these photos as they are usually spotted in the landscape.

What strikes us most is always the beautiful old oaks covered in Spanish moss as you can see below. Spanish moss is not truly a moss or lichen, but a flowering plant in the bromeliad family. It has aerial roots and tiny flowers that are typically very inconspicious. The plant is propagated by seed and vegetatively by fragments that are carried by wind and stick to tree limbs or carried by birds for nests.

When we were visiting the Angel Oak (see previous post), I read a story on a magnet about the moss that honestly sort of ruined it for me. Here's a similar story if you're a story lover, though I warn you - you may want to just end here because in my opinion, the story is not great...

"There was once a traveler who came with his Spanish fiancée in the 1700s to start a plantation near the city of Charleston SC. She was a beautiful bride-to-be with long flowing raven hair. As the couple was walking over the plantation sight near the forest, and making plans for their future, they were suddenly attacked by a band of Cherokee who were not happy to share the land of their forefathers with strangers. As a final warning to stay away from the Cherokee nation, they cut off the long dark hair of the bride-to-be and threw it up in an old live oak tree. As the people came back day after day and week after week, they began to notice the hair had shriveled and turned grey and had begun spreading from tree to tree. Over the years the moss spread from South Carolina to Georgia and Florida. To this day, if one stands under a live oak tree, one will see the moss jump from tree to tree and defend itself with a large army of beetles."

In the story I read on the magnet, the couple were buried under the tree, and the spreading moss is a symbol of eternal love.


  1. I find this story kinda romantic..well, except for the attacking Hi Wendy, nice to meet you through Blotanical. Lookin' forward to getting to know you and your garden ;)

  2. Hi Lynn - you too! I just left a message on your old post about Amanda's graduation. Yeah, the attacking part is a little is the hair draped all over the trees...

  3. Hi again, thanks so much for visiting and commenting on my blog ;) Amanda leaves in 2wks. for college so I'm counting down...just know I'll be doing the ugly cry as we pull out of the parking lot!! Your girls are so adorable with the with a knife!
    Add a 'Follow' widget on your sidebar and I'm there ;)

  4. What gorgeous photos! I kind of like the story, even if it is a little bit dismal/creepy. I've never spent much time back East, but I hope to eventually - so much greener over there! Looks like you had a lovely vacation. :o)

  5. Wendy, I do agree with Lynn here that this is a romantic story. Thank for sharing it with us. The pictures are very beautiful too. Spanish moss and angel oak. What lovely names. The tree looks like a giant willow from afar.

  6. Thanks Julie and Autumn Belle, the photos are just ok - for the full effect, picture yourself riding a bike under the canopy of these gorgeous trees on your way to the beach! :)

  7. The story sounds as if it were written by someone who wanted to sell magnets, rather than impress those of us who live with Spanish moss. Beetles? Do you think they were talking about redbugs? Chiggers will certainly discourage gathering moss.

    I'm partial to the more romantic stories, like Spanish Beards.

    I visited your Bloom Day post, too, but this was just so intriguing.

  8. Good point Nell Jean. In fact, I read up on all the uses for Spanish moss including mattress stuffing. Thus, "bed bugs"? I never thought of the moss harboring bugs, and could picture myself draping the moss gently across my neck like a feather boa. I'll be thinking twice now.

  9. That's a nice story. I thought moss could make a good wig but if they have bugs it probably wouldn't work, lol.


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