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Tillandsia usneoides


Tillandsia usneoides (L.) L.

Family Name: Bromeliaceae
Synonyms: Dendropogon usneoides, Tillandsia usneoides f. genuina, Strepsia usneoides, Abromeitiella usneoides
Common Name: Spanish Moss, Old Man's Beard, Long Moss, Black Moss, 松萝凤梨, 老人须


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Monocotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Epiphyte
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 15 m to 25 m


Native Distribution Southern USA, South America
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Horticultural / Cultivated Only)

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Herbaceous epiphyte grows in long, thick, tangled chains.
Roots This species doesn't have roots.
Foliage Thin, short leaves (1.5 - 3 cm long, 0.1 - 0.2 cm wide) occur in small twisted clusters. Leaves are densely covered in short, silver to grey hairs known as trichomes. The hairs help to absorb moisture and nutrients from the air. Leaves are silver to grey when dry, but light green when wet.
Stems Stems are thin and elongate.
Flowers Small, inconspicuous flowers are pale green or blue and are most fragrant at night. In cultivation, they seldom produce flowers.
Habitat Occurs in many types of subtropical and tropical habitats. Usually found hanging from tree branches, especially those of oak and cypress.
Cultivation This species is easy to grow. Simply hang the plants in partial shade and mist regularly with lukewarm water. It grows best in warm, humid environments and does not require fertilizer. Propagate by division. Remove several leaf clusters and hang them in a new location.
Etymology The genus Tillandsia was named after Swedish botanist Dr. Elias Tillands (1640 - 1693) who had a phobia of water and refused to travel by boat. This genus was named after him, because plants in this genus often hang in air from branches, appearing to avoid water. The species epithet "usneoides" means that it resembles lichens in the genus Usnea ("-oides" meaning "similar to"). This species is commonly known as "Spanish moss," but it is a bromeliad and not a true moss. It is also colloquially known as "air plant," because it does not require soil to grow.
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal ( It is brewed as a tea to treat diabetes, rheumatism and gallbladder problems.)
[Others]: This species is often used as filler material for floral arrangements and wreaths. It is also used to cover the soil surface of potted plants for a more decorative look. This species accumulates mercury and has been used to detect the presence of mercury in the atmosphere (Filho et al 2002). Prior to the 1960s, this species was used to stuff mattresses, cushions and car seats in the U.S. and Europe.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Easy to Grow, Shallow Media (8 -10cm)
Landscape Uses General, Interiorscape/ Indoor Plant

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Semi-Shade, [Remarks] (Prefers regular misting)
Water Preference Occasional Misting, [Remarks] (Prefers regular misting)
Maintenance Requirements Low
Propagation Method Division


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Silver / Grey
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Velvety / Furry / Tomentose
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Linear)
Foliar Venation Parallel
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Truncate / Square
Typical Foliar Area Leptophyll (<0.25 cm2 ), Nanophyll ( 0.25cm2 - 2.25 cm2 )
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 3.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Monocot)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Herbaceous

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Blue, Green

Image Repository



Master ID 1222
Species ID 2515
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 14 October 2021.