Sarasota News Leader

07/11/2014

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Editor's note: This is the third in Palmeri's "Florida Alphabet Soup" series, and she points out, "Letters float to the top in no par- ticular order!" On June 25, 1564, Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues stepped off a French ship onto a beach in northeast Florida into a throng of Timucua. The heavily tattooed men wore deerskin loincloths; the women, skirts of Spanish moss. In Painter in a Savage World, Miles Harvey relates that Le Moyne, the first European art- ist to document the "New World," noted in his journal "The chief's wife and her maid servants were all dressed in a special kind of moss hanging from their shoulders or around them as a girdle. The moss grew on many trees and hung together like a chain, with its green- ish azure color shining like silk. The trees on which this moss grew were beautiful to look at because it hung down to the ground from the highest branches." Spanish moss is not Spanish. It is not a moss. It is an epiphyte — an air plant — and, sur- prisingly, a member of the pineapple family. Surviving on air, rain and minerals washed off leaves of vegetation, it produces tiny flowers THIS ADORNMENT OF NATURE HAS BEEN GATHERED FOR MANY USES THROUGH THE CENTURIES IS FOR SPANISH MOSS S Story and Photos By Fran Palmeri Contributing Writer

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