What is Ball Moss?
Ball moss (Tillandsia Recurvata) commonly grows in central Texas on live oak and other trees, power lines, and high fences. Ball moss is not really a moss at all; it belongs to the same family as ornamental bromeliads. Ball moss is an epiphyte, meaning it grows on other plants but does not depend on them for nutrition. The “pseudo roots” of ball moss are used to anchor the plant to whatever surface it grows on. However, these false roots do not take up water and nutrients. Instead, ball moss uses its leaves and stems to absorb water and nutrients from the air. This is why many people refer to ball moss as an “air plant.”
Where It’s Found
Ball moss flourishes in humid spots with low direct light and little air flow. These conditions are common under the canopy of healthy shade trees. Dead or dying branches underneath a tree’s healthy canopy that have not been removed provide the perfect environment for ball moss to grow. For this reason, removing dead limbs and branches regularly is an excellent way to avoid ball moss infestations.
Ball Moss Infestations
Once established, ball moss spreads over time and competes with the tree’s leaves for sunlight. Heavy ball moss infestations can be extremely unsightly and damaging to trees, especially during periods of stress or in older trees nearing the end of their lifecycles. Ball moss is difficult and tedious to remove by hand. There are non-toxic abatement methods that can get rid of even heavy ball moss infestations and help restore trees to healthy conditions without the use of harmful chemicals.