Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bushcraft - Central Texas Style - Natural Insulation

Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is a natural insulating material. Spanish moss is sometimes called long moss or graybeard but it is not a real moss. It’s what is known as an epiphyte. Epiphytes don’t rely on their host plants for nutrients.

Unlike air plants that have aerial roots, Spanish moss does not have any roots. It has a special ability to trap moisture and nutrients from the air and surfaces around it that allows it to be extremely drought tolerant. The only real threat from Spanish moss to host plants is from the extra weight on limbs or branches and the effects of shading that can reduce the ability of the host plant to get the proper amount of sunlight.

One of the unique characteristics of Spanish moss is that it has the ability to act as a natural form of insulation. After being processed (dried), Spanish moss was quite often used to stuff mattresses because the natural insulating properties of Spanish moss made the mattresses cooler and more comfortable to use. It was even used as packing material and its primary use today is as a mulching agent for plants.

A little caution should also be exercised around Spanish moss because it is home to one of nature’s peskiest little critters. Redbugs (more frequently called chiggers in my area) are also found living in Spanish moss that is found close to the ground. These little creatures can cause some very irritating effects if you get them on you. A little dilute bleach water will normally kill these pesky little bugs when applied to the affected area.

Spanish-moss is normally found in areas of the southeastern United States that range from Texas to Florida.

Got natural stuffing?

Staying above the water line!


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