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This is a little piece of Spanish moss, the beard-like plant that grows off trees in the southeastern United States.
The plant, despite the name, is not a moss and closely related to the pineapple. It is said that the plant does no harm to its host tree, although the sheer amount of Spanish moss that can accumulate onto one tree is astonishing and should certainly have some impact on leaf density and available sunlight to lower branches. It is neither soft nor hard, but grabbing a large clump and rubbing it on your face isn’t recommended…chiggers occasionally inhabit the ‘moss’.
This plant propagates through a few means. Fragmentation of established plants spreads small pieces to other trees and limbs. The plant also produces a small flower whose seeds are wind-dispersed. Like other bromeliads [air plants], Spanish moss has no true root system and does not need soil to survive. Instead, the plant extracts nutrients from the air and through its host plant [through material shed from the host]. Spanish moss prefers to grow on oaks, but can be found on other swamp loving trees, like Cypress and Tupelo.
Check out Spanish Moss and Ball Moss from the University of Florida