Gathering Moss

Gathering Moss

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Cost: $29
SALE PRICE through March 31, 2017 – $20 (limit 2/person)

Print of an original painting. Open stock (not numbered and signed). Will fit into a 14″ x 18″ frame, or mat it for a larger frame.

One of the most beautiful features of any swamp is the Spanish Moss hanging from the limbs of the trees. The Moss Gatherer goes from place to place in his pirogue picking moss where he finds it. The pirogue (which resembles a canoe) can be taken in the shallow, marshy areas of the swamp where larger boats cannot pass.

Spanish Moss is an air-feeding plant found mainly on cypress, gum, pecan oaks and elms along the Gulf Coast. In Louisiana where the rainfall is heavy enough to yield plentiful amounts, shipments of moss on a commercial scale began shortly after the War Between the States. It is not a parasite and does not live off the trees upon which it grows, nor is it harmful to the trees. However, it will grow only on trees. It is propagated by fragments carried from tree to tree by birds and wind.

It was originally used for mattresses, in upholstering and as a binder in the construction of mud and clay chimneys. It was desirable in warm climates because air permeates it. Also, no known insect will attach moss fiber, eat, destroy or live within it.

Moss is gray when it comes off a tree, unfit for commercial use. Moss merchants or gatherers pile the moss in five foot mounds and keep it damp so it can decay and leave the fiber underneath. It is then spread on a fence to dry. Curing takes 3-4 months. The outer bark is used as mulch.

The Indians called this hair-like plant (Itla-Okla” or “Tree-Hair”). The French thought it reminded them of the long black beards of the Spanish explorers, therefore, they called it “Barbe Espagnol” or “Spanish Beard”. The Spanish, feeling ridiculed called it “Cabello Frances’” or “French Hair”. Finally, the accepted name became “Spanish Moss”.

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