Whose Hair Is It?

There’s an amusing story about one of the South’s most emblematic sights, one so common that Lowcountry residents hardly notice it. During the Spanish – French exploration and rivalry for control of Lowcountry ports in the 17th century, French explorers asked their Native American guides about the scraggly growths dangling from live oaks and bald cypresses. Their guides’ name for it translated as “tree hair”, prompting the French to think of the ragged beards many of their Spanish rivals sported and leading them to name the stuff “barbe espagnol”. The Spanish, on the other hand, preferred to call it “cabello francés”; but it was the French explorers’ name that stuck and that, over the centuries, morphed into Spanish Moss.

To read more about this interesting plant, click here to access the complete article on the Seabrook Island Natural History Group (SINHG) website.

Explore the ecology, history and culture of the Carolina Lowcountry with SINHG. For information visit sinhg.org.

Tidelines Editors

(Image credit: SINHG)