Ball Moss, which is native to South Texas, is neither a moss nor is it a parasite.

It’s a member of the Bromeliad family and, as such, has both flowers and seeds. 

On our walking paths through the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge, we saw plenty of these plants attached to withering branches of live oaks. We learned that Ball Moss doesn’t kill trees, but rather attaches to tree branches that have already died. It takes no nutrients from the tree. All of its nutrients and moisture are taken from the atmosphere.

This nest-like plant harbors little bugs that are food for many varieties of small birds.

“Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and it’s beauty.”
― Albert Einstein