I took this picture while driving on HWY 178 between Orangeville, SC. and Charleston, SC.
Spanish Moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is an air-feeding plant or epiphyte found mainly upon cypress, gum trees, oaks, elms, and pecan trees in South Louisiana and Florida. It is not a parasite and does not live off the trees upon which it grows, nor is it harmful to the trees. It has been noticed, however, that its presence on pecan trees tends to reduce the yield, owing, no doubt, to the fact that to some extent it shadows the buds of the fruit.
When the French first came to Louisiana they asked the Indians what this hair-like plant was and were told that it was "tree hair," or 'Itla-okla," as they called it. The French thought it reminded them of the long black beards of the Spanish explorers who had come before them, and advised the Indians that a better name was "Spanish Beard, " or "Barbe Espagnol. " The Spaniards, consider- ing this a term of ridicule, asserted that a more appropriate name was "Cabello Francés," or "French Hair." The Indians thought "Barbe Espagnol" sounded better and for many years Louisiana moss was referred to only as "Spanish Beard." But this name did not last; it seemed too ridiculous. The accepted name became Spanish moss.